In the week that David Bowie and Alan Rickman died and lacking a film in which either starred with Aniston*, what serves as adequately appropriate within our subject’s portfolio is her part in a film that celebrated and parodied rock-star fandom, albeit with mixed results. In love with an LA-based British hair-rock band (based loosely on the story of Judas Priest) a far cry from the genius of Bowie, it’s a film that nevertheless revels in the power of music to inspire, and the importance of individuality and creative autonomy above all else, epitomised by Bowie.
FILM: Rock Star
DIRECTOR: Stephen Herek
CHARACTER NAME AND PROFESSION: Emily Poule, manager/’business woman’
PLOT SUMMARY: Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg) fronts a tribute act to Steel Dragon, but infuriates his band mates with his perfectionism. His manager and girlfriend, Emily (Aniston) supports him wholeheartedly. When the actual lead singer of Steel Dragon, Bobby Beers (Jason Flemyng) is kicked out of the band, Chris is whisked away to audition as his replacement. Getting the job, he changes his name to Izzy, and dives headfirst into all the clichés of the rock n’ roll lifestyle. Initially happy to continue supporting him, Emily tires of being relegated to ‘one of the girls’ following the tour bus and decides to move to Seattle to set up her own business. Chris gets further hooked on his new drug-fuelled life and only rethinks things when he realises he’s just a singer for hire, with no creative autonomy. Eventually Chris and Emily reunite, once he has left Steel Dragon to become a solo indie singer. Basically he goes from 1980’s hair glam and power vocals to 1990s Seattle grunge.
CHARACTER TRAITS: Emily is loyal, kind, witty, assertive and self-assured.
NOTES ON PERFORMANCE: Basic Aniston here, which isn’t to criticise – she’s as funny, poised and committed as ever – just not given room to demonstrate much range. Highlights are her withering looks to Timothy Spall’s road manager, Mats, her comic line readings and her convincing sad face when she realises Chris is lost to rock n’ roll.
NOTES ON FILM: Director Stephen Herek demonstrates some of the ground he’s covered elsewhere – the belief in rock n’ roll from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), the dreams come true story of The Mighty Ducks – but Rock Star most closely resembles Mr Holland’s Opus (1995), with Aniston cast in the role of supportive partner, forever side-lined by her man’s failure to see all the ways he’s blessed. Other female characters fare even worse, as they’re either sycophants or neglected wives and girlfriends.
CONCLUSION: When Emily leaves to set up her Seattle business I wished I could see that film instead.
*Aniston almost starred with Alan Rickman in Gambit but sadly that never came to fruition.