“I don’t want to have just one front. I feel like I need at least two just to carry on doing what I’m doing comfortably. It’s acting, sure it is.” Mick Jagger, 1979
Mick Jagger’s first feature film, Performance, is considered remarkable for a number of reasons, Mick’s own performance as Turner the fading musician certainly being one of them. Nic Roeg’s and Donald Cammell’s co-directed film shocked and disturbed more than it impressed on first release, but it has gone on to be recognised as a – possibly the – counter-cultural classic movie of the era.
Made in 1968, but release delayed until 1970 by movie execs who were (rightly) shocked and concerned about how the public would react to this uncompromising essay in sex, drugs, rock and roll and violence, Performance is a film about identity, what we choose to show, what’s behind the masks we wear and what happens when we lose control of them.
This kind of ambiguity and the ways in which it can be exploited, deliberately or accidentally, came naturally to multi-faceted Mick, the grammar school boy from the Kent suburbs who shocked America with his explicit song and dance show, the LSE undergraduate who invoked the devil and called for some sympathy.
Performance is unique and a uniquely appropriate vehicle for one of the greatest performers of all time. If you see one film with Mick Jagger in it, this is the one.