MOVIE REVIEW: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Workby Jonathan Doyle
There's a good chance you hate Joan Rivers. Or at least you hate what you've seen of her in fleeting glimpses on TV shows you'd rather not be watching. But she's really not that bad. In fact, seen outside the crass TV culture that has defined her star persona over the last five or six decades, her wise, iconoclastic intelligence shines through. This breezy, entertaining documentary brings Joan Rivers -- and show business in general -- down-to-earth and takes an honest look at the pain and frustration involved in any Hollywood career. It also offers a harsh reminder that, even if you've endured for as long as Rivers, there's no real "Hollywood community," just a bunch of vulnerable, highly motivated people at different points in their fame trajectories.
What's most surprising about this portrait is that, in the face of an impossible uphill struggle for continued professional success, Rivers does most of the heavy lifting herself. Her creative choices may reek of laziness or entitlement, but the true story is one of incredibly hard work in the face of an industry that would rather exclude all women over the age of 40. As one of Rivers' associates notes, if you stand in the rain long enough, you might get struck by lightning (for the purposes of this metaphor, getting struck by lightning is a good thing). Rivers has spent most of career standing in the rain and she's been lucky enough to catch a few major jolts. She's turning 77 next month, but with her tenacity and ageless, irreverent spirit, it seems altogether likely she'll get struck a few more times. It certainly won't hurt to have this lively, candid documentary under her belt. Rating: 7.6/10