Give Me Pity! is a 2022 American avant-garde psychological drama written and directed by Amanda Kramer. The film stars Sophie von Haselberg as Sissy, a young singer-songwriter given a prime-time television special. However, the special quickly becomes a psychedelic nightmare as Sissy's ego and insecurities are exposed. The Blu-ray from Utopia and OCN Distribution features a solid A/V package and plenty of bonus content for curious fans of this remarkable feature. While not for everyone, this film is Worth A Look
“Jesus and I are both entertainers.”
Singer-Songwriter Sissy St. Claire (Sophie von Haselberg, Irrational Man) takes the stage in her first primetime television special! She desires to spread hope and joy to her fans through this variety show filled with musical numbers, drama, and monologues. The disco-infused acts are elevated by the sequin suits of her dancers and Sissy’s positive energy busting through with glamorous aplomb. Unfortunately, throughout the show’s ten variety segments, Sissy is stalked by a masked intruder who slowly distorts her mind and reveals her inner demons. The show descends into a phantasmagoric nightmare. Is Sissy hallucinating, or is this threat real?
Give Me Pity! visualizes the hellscape of someone seeking fame and fortune. Here, we’re given an insight into the depths of anguish and trauma endured to “make it.” Filled with bizarre performances, distorted musical numbers, and constant image and audio manipulation, the film is a demented ride into the deteriorating depths of a celebrity’s psyche. Helmed by avante-garde director Amanda Kramer (Ladyworld), whose deconstruction of celebrity and fame is led by a fantastic performance from Sophie von Hasselberg. Sophie is no stranger to the limelight herself, being the daughter of Bette Midler.
Sissy starts each act hopeful and vibrant but continually recovers from the blows her self-sabotaging psyche lands. Each segment has an arc that predictably leads to a bizarre conclusion. A pattern of gender roles slowly emerges through the performances. A murdered sex worker, a daily beauty routine, the struggles of a woman in Hollywood, and plastic surgery all point towards familiar themes in director Amanda Kramer’s work on gender identity.
As the TV special descends into madness, we lose the live audience and gain a broader view of the performance space outside the frame, offering a cursed production. The cameras have become aware and act within the performances' context rather than documenting them. A freefall into madness occurs as the friend (Cricket Arrison, This House Has People in It) appears on stage with lipstick across her face. Sissy urges her to do an impression of her - ominous electronic distortion as she readies herself. The stage is in shambles, with props from the other acts strewn across the floor.
Give Me Pity! isn’t an easy feature to experience. It is a challenging and experimental piece of performance art that may not be to everyone's taste. However, it is rewarding and unforgettable for those willing to go on the journey. Director Amanda Kramer and star Sophie von Haselberg create layers within the segments that demand attention but never stray from the bizarre trappings of this visually disjointed showcase. It isn’t afraid to go into dark places to examine gender, fame, and obsession, but it also has a lot of humor and heart.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Give Me Pity! arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Utopia and OCN Distribution in a transparent keepcase with reversible artwork. If you order from Vinegar Syndrome, it comes with a specialty slipcover. The Region A Blu-ray disc loads the Utopia logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with scenes from the film playing against typical navigation options. When you hear “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” you’ve made it.
Presented in a 1.33 aspect ratio, this AVC-encoded 1080p HD image is coated in layers of artistic layering, filtering, and effects. Give Me Pity! utilizes a soft focus with star effects causing beams of light to stream across the image from disco balls and even the earrings on Sissy’s dancers. Colors are bold, with primaries strong throughout. Detail is limited through the use of an artistic lens here to glamourize the image, but facial features and costuming textures are evident. The film has a demented Donna Summer aesthetic and offers an intoxicating and psychedelic trance-inducing presentation.
Give Me Pity! arrives with a robust and magnetic DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track allowing viewers to feel trapped in Sissy’s primetime special whether they like it or not. Dialogue is clear and clean without unintended noise; however, there are layers of added distortion to the sound mix whenever Sissy begins falling into some psychosis on stage. These sound warps and distortions overpower the mix, causing her and the audience to fall into the fray. Musical numbers are bright with good fidelity. LFE roars to life, adding textures to the ominous musical themes. Surround channels add a dizzy sense of awe, with various elements filling the room.
Utopia loads this release with special features suited to fans of the film. Start with the rehearsal videos and photo galleries before sinking into the commentary track.
Give Me Pity! is a challenging watch but a rewarding experience for those who stick it out on Sissy’s tragic journey into the abyss. Demented, touching, and hilarious, the film tackles several societal and gender issues while maintaining a heightened sense of dread and unease. It’s an unforgettable experience. Utopia and OCN bring the film to Blu-ray with a solid A/V package and plenty of behind-the-scenes bonus features for fans. While disorienting and disturbing, this one is Worth a Watch.