I think Helen Reddy, who died recently, deserved a better film than this. But there is a good balance between the music and the personal life, even if some parts seem shallow. She was such a superstar in the 1970s – hard to imagine her power then.
This is the story of Helen Reddy, who in 1966 landed in New York with her three-year-old daughter, a suitcase and $230 in her pocket. Within weeks she was broke. Within months she was in love. Within five years she was one of the biggest superstars of her time, and an icon of the 1970s feminist movement, who wrote a song which galvanised a generation of women to fight for change.
1970s feminist icon songbird Helen Reddy is mostly known for her 1972 hit I Am Woman where she declares in the rousing call-and-response chorus: “I am strong (strong!) I am invincible (invincible!) I am woman!”.
It was the anthem the era — and the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) — needed. But Leave Me Alone, the lead single off Reddy’s followup album Long Hard Climb, goes harder. The chorus: “Leave me alone, won’t you leave me alone, Please leave me alone, now leave me alone, etc.”
Reddy’s heyday was the 1970s. She was about as successful in her career as it is possible to be. Three of her songs reached #1. She had multiple hits in both the Top 10 and the Top 40. Her fame did not travel into the 1980s, when feminism re-introduced itself, only this time wearing a cone-shaped bra and a “Boy Toy” belt = Madonna. But where could Reddy fit in in the 1980s? Short answer: she didn’t.
Whatever anyone thinks of the movie (myself included), the actress who plays Reddy is terrific and nostalgia plays a big part in such a biopic!
Australia 2020, 117 min, rated M (drug use & offensive language)
Directed by Unjoo Moon
Starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Evan Peters, Danielle Macdonald, Chris Parnell & Gus Murray