Mother of Rock: Lillian Roxon -- Film Review



SYDNEY -- There's a Lillian Roxon-shaped hole at the center of this surprisingly inert documentary about an unsung female rock writer whose dynamism drew in such New York luminaries as Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Iggy Pop. A static handful of photographs, teasingly obscure re-creations and recorded phone conversations with confidante Danny Fields stand in for Roxon, who died in 1973.

Kudos to filmmaker Paul Clarke for bringing us her story, but any sense of the woman yields to the fabulousness of her inner circle, which also included frenemy Germaine Greer, who dedicated "The Female Eunuch" to her.

Friends and colleagues describe the pioneering Australian as a witty, bitchy, funny proto-feminist, whose liberated lifestyle echoed the countercultural revolutions she chronicled during the 1960s and '70s.

Roxon had a gift for being in the right place at the right time, an uncanny prescience and a strong ambition to carve out a career for herself.

In 1959, she traded Sydney bohemia for New York, where she was among the earliest to champion such seminal acts as Jimi Hendrix and the Doors. She became something of an underground star after writing the world's first rock encyclopedia and held court in the Felliniesque back room of the legendary nightclub Max's Kansas City, where the Velvet Underground recorded a live album and Deborah Harry was a waitress.

The result is an affectionate but unsatisfying portrait -- with a killer soundtrack.

Venue: Toronto International Film Festival
Production: Lowlands Media
Screenwriter-director: Paul Clarke
Producer: Robert de Young
Director of photography: Helen Barrow
Music: Paul Clarke, Paul di Giacomo, Michael Lira, Greg Walker
Editor: Mark Middis
No rating, 74 minutes
Sales: SBS Content Sales