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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was the movie that started an all out love affair with the music
of the Carpenters for me. I was 15 at the time and one of my teachers
show this movie to us as part of our week long study on both anorexia
I fell in love with Karen's voice and continue to this day to expand my ever growing collection of CD's. However back to the movie.
Personally when I saw this movie the first time I thought what a tragic loss the world suffered when Karen passed on after thinking she had gotten over her illness. But at the same time this movie also spurred me on to do more research in to her life. As I read more and more I came to realize that this movie does NOT do justice to Karen's story either as a singer or her personal problems. It just skims over her life giving use very little actual facts in loo of telling the viewer a sugar-coated version of the events leading up to Karen's premature death at the age of 32.
*** Spoiler Warning ***
For instance, Karen's wedding and marriage is reduced to about 5 minutes of film time. There is next to no dialog between she and he. Notto mention that they changed his name. Karen was married to Tom Burris not Bob Knight. Also she was not divorced as the movie shows her to be. Karen was in the process of divorcing Bob (Tom) at the time of her death. She was set to sign her final divorce papers on the same day that she had her heart attack. She was still a married woman at the moment of death. In real life Tom went to Karen's funeral and during the visitation took off his wedding ring and threw it in to her casket much to the shock of her grieving parents and brother.
Then there is the issue of just what sort of abuse Karen was doing to her body during her more then 7 years suffering with anorexia. At the time that she seeked out help in New York the singer was ingesting up to 100 laxatives daily and compounding it with abusing thyroid medication to speed up her heart and thus burn more calories.
Karen's solo album witch is touched on when Richard goes in to rehab for his sleeping pill addition is all but dismissed. Karen in real life like in the movie did seek her brothers blessing before starting the project. Richard grudgingly gave it to Karen but he did ask her to get help instead for her eating disorder. When the solo album was complete Karen was very proud of the songs on it. But A&M ( Karen's label) was not. So she choose to shelve the album and back to working with Richard on what would be come their final studio album during Karen's lifetime.
Another glaring false part of the movie is where Karen is on stage and she collapses. THAT NEVER HAPPENED IN REAL LIFE!!! That was pure fiction to get the viewers attention.
The music in this movie is all of Karen's actual recordings and for that fact alone this movie is worth watching. Cynthia Gibb does a wonderful job of lip-syching. I was also told that she took drumming lessons from Cubby O'Brian ( He was Karen's shadow drum while on stage just so she could look like she knew what she was doing.
While not a movie I would tell you to watch it's worth a boo for the music content alone..
I am very diplomatic in my reviews, and as an academic writer, try to
give creative license to TV writers trying to explicate a true story.
This story, about Karen Carpenter, could have helped so many, yet due
to the directing and editing, does not.
The story, in this case, is not fully addressed, unless one reads psychological journals. While Cynthia Gibb portrays a realistic Karen, it is sad that so much has been edited...Louise Fletcher portrays her mother, and does an excellent job, with limited material and dialogue. In this case, I give the actors credit for surviving this project.
Why is the audience not permitted to see causation factors?....American audiences are quite savvy, and if they have cable, usually educated.
I sincerely feel that I could have written a better story, would not have edited out the truth, and allowed the actors to project the reality.
Richard Carpenter, as director, has seriously underestimated and insulted American audiences. Karen's story is important, and it is sad we will never hear it.
I forgot to add this comment to my previous comment about this film.
About Karen's marriage. I was heart-broken for her. But, to me it seems to be the old "double standard". The man that fell in love with Karen may not have known how famous she was - at first. Surely, he knew after the "I Do's". He (I think) was famous in his own right. Wasn't he in politics or something on that order? Why, is it that he can keep his standing in the choice he made, but Karen was allowed to. He fell in love with her, so this means she should have become the instant housey wife. But that wasn't Karen's destiny. Why couldn't he support her in her choice of carreers???? He must have had some idea of the HARD WORK that is involved in the entertainment world.
I just sincerely feel that Karen was appreciated or supported ENOUGH by the ones that meant the most to her.
We, her public ---- still her public -- STILL SUPPORT HER!
First off, I am NOT a fan of the Carpenters' music; I found Karen's voice
insipid and annoying beyond belief and usually cringe whenever I hear it or
see a photo of the woman's face (which I found thoroughly
That said, I was still compelled to watch this film which I found incredibly insightful and entertaining. Cynthia Gibb did an excellent job with the role (although somewhat miscast as a far more attractive woman than the real Karen). The story was well told and this film is a must-see for any woman battling an eating disorder, poor self/body image or facing the pressures one faces in the entertainment industry.
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