Rape, suicide, Margate. It is a film only Tracey Emin could have made, and probably the only film Tracey Emin could have made.
But unless you are as fascinated with Emin as she is herself, there isn't much to see here. Like the installation art for which she is best known, the film's merit is in what it tells you about its author.
Emin wanted her film to appeal to teenagers whose adolescence is as traumatic as hers was (an intention thwarted by the British censor, who rated it 18 because of an instructive suicide scene) but it is questionable how successful it would have been. The cinematography is insultingly amateurish and most scenes, whether brooding or frivolous, are made banal by the absence of narrative drive.
The story, shot on either a hand-held or fixed camera, concerns the adolescent encounters of a group of schoolgirls. The characters represent different aspects of a teenager's (ie Emin's) life. One is raped, or "broken into", as Emin was. She commits suicide, something Emin attempted. There are shots of people jumping off Margate's quayside, the place where Emin attempted to kill herself.
Another girl goes to Egypt, which is probably a metaphor for escapism and the pursuit of love, although it could just be a girl going on holiday to Egypt.
Insightful as all this is, I learnt more about the artist on Desert Island Discs, a BBC radio interview programme. I do find her an interesting person, not least because of her compulsion to communicate her life through her art, but the film was largely stimulus-free.
If Emin remains famous after her death, we might look back on this film as a fascinating insight into a troubled artist's life. Until then, we can take it or leave it.
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