91 min - Documentary
"You're gonna miss me, baby... when I'm gone." Those are the words of rock legend Roky Erickson, lead singer/songwriter of the 13th Floor Elevators, a musical group that turned the late 60's on its ear with sounds not heard before in the mainstream music scene. Erickson was the lynchpin of a brave new world of rock'n'roll, creating a sound that would soon be copied by many, and commercially exploited by many more, but all the while, the young rock star was experimenting with the usual lassortment of mindbending drugs... LSD, cocaine, heroin... and when he needed help the most, the authorities opted to instead lock him up, calling him insane and determining that he could not function in society. Ultimately, they were right... but only because they made sure of it.
Roky Erickson endured a lot at the mental hospital he was sent to. Electric shock therapy, countless 'legal' experimental drugs, and the kind of four-white-walls atmosphere that is created to contain madness, not cure it. When Roky was finally released, he wasn't the same guy, but he was functioning. Moreso, he was functioning enough to restart his musical career in an entirely new direction, with a sound that once again broke all the rules. Sure, the words were all about demons in his head, but the records sold and the people paid to watch. For a while.
Fast forward a few years and we meet Rocky's future self; a schizophrenic individual in a house filled with clutter, with radio antennaes hanging off every piece of table space, and everysingle appliance in the house on at the same time. Sitting peacefully among the high-volume din, Rocky seems content among the racket, as if the collective sounds from three strereos, two TV's, kitchen appliances and even a video camera had blocked out the voices in his head at last. His aging mother, showing ample signs of delirium herserlf, works hard to look after her son, but ultimately just doesn't see that she's enabling his sickness, rather than fighting it. Rocky degenerates, and his mother isn't far behind him when the youngest son of the Erickson family decides enough is enough...
Director Keven McAlester was granted incredible access in the making of this film, seemingly able to go as far into this family unit as he needed to in order to do his job. Nobody warns him off, nobody loses their temper, and even when Roky clearly doesn't want the cameras around, he's almost reticient to say so. This is a dysfunctional family in the extreme, but it's a family that got that way not through meanness or anger, but through playful fantasy and a distinct lack of touch with reality.
In a way, it's that lack of streetsmarts that allows You're Gonna Miss Me to be a beautiful film worthy of the great singer's legend. Deep down you can see that all Rocky ever wanted was to be a boy, play some music, and be happy...
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