Amy Berg’s documentary, Janis: Little Girl Blue, tells the story of iconic singer Janis Joplin and her eventual death from heroin overdose in 1970 at the age of 27. Joplin became famous as the voice of blues-rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, before becoming a sensation at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Even Mama Cass is captured in the audience at the festival, marveling at Joplin’s talent.
The film makes the case that Joplin’s early death was not a result of her fame, but rather a result of deep underlying emotional injury. “The antithesis of the all-American prom-queen ideal,” and an advocate of black civil rights, Joplin was bullied and rejected by her high school classmates in Port Arthur, Texas. While at University of Texas in Austin, a fraternity would campaign to elect Joplin the “ugliest man on campus.” Joplin’s romantic relationships with men, and women, never ended well.
Joplin struggled to lead her own band after leaving Big Brother, but her years solo would lead to growth as an artist and produce her biggest hit, “Me and Bobby McGee.” Then, just as she had begun to reduce her heroin use and exert more self-control over her life, tragedy struck.
Read the full review at The New York Times.