“Give Me Pity!”

This film was screened at Fantastic Fest

Avant-garde performance art, especially when it’s a one woman show, has the potential to be brutal. Strangely (and thankfully), “Give Me Pity!” is quite watchable thanks to an engaging lead turn from Sophie von Haselberg as Sissy St. Claire. Writer / director Amanda Kramer‘s experimental project about a woman unraveling under the pressure of performing in a cramped studio while putting on her variety show is claustrophobic, complete with monologues, song and dance routines, and a sinister masked man lurking in the shadows off set.

Sissy St. Claire embodies the very definition of a diva. She can act, sing and dance, and does it all with ease. When performing, Sissy has created a fictional world for herself, a place where self-doubt and loathing are banished to the deepest recesses of her mind. She craves attention. She needs attention. Sometimes, all Sissy wants is to elicit sympathy from her audience.

Fear begins to take control as Sissy begins to crumble under the weight of a studio stalker as well as the pressure of always performing. Between disco dance routines and corny monologues, the woman begins to fall apart in a spectacular fashion.

The stylish film looks and feels like a late 70s public access show, complete with canned laughter and retro lighting and editing. The costume design is dominated by Spandex, big hair, sequins, and sparkle. You could say this film is a mood, and artsy audiences will be here for all of it. It’s a bold experiment all around.

This is a wholly bizarre movie from start to finish, but with such a fully realized vision from Kramer and an entrancing lead performance, “Give Me Pity!” is lovably unconventional.

By: Louisa Moore

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