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Trine Dyrholm as Nico

“NICO, 1988” My rating: B

93 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The German model/singer Nico — real name Christa Paffgen — had her 15 minutes of fame in the late 1960s when Andy Warhol cast her as the blonde monotone figurehead of the Velvet Underground.

She really didn’t sing all that much — mostly she banged a tambourine and looked ethereal — but for a brief time she was the embodiment of cool Teutonic eroticism.

That’s not the Nico writer/director Susanna Nicchiarelli is interested in.  No, this  Nico is 20 years of hard living down the road, a bloated brunette addicted to heroin and pretty much pissed at everyone and everything.

Nicchiarelli’s docu-drama follows Nico in her last two years, when she toured Europe with a ragtag bunch of musicians in a broken-down van and worked hard at alienating anyone who cared about her.

As portrayed by Danish actress Trine Dyrholm, this Nico is no longer beautiful…but she’s a force of nature. Rebelling at being window dressing for other, better musicians, she is determined to live her life her way, even if it means (and it will) an early grave.

“Nico, 1988” unfolds as a series of one-night stands as the singer — who wants to be known by her real name but cannot outrun the Nico legend — alternately enthralls and alienates her audiences. When the mood is upon her she can be an arresting presence, prowling the stage and snarling out the lyrics to her compositions.  At other times she looks bored  and contemptuous.

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