Review: Karen Carpenter – Starving For Perfection (SBIFF 2023)


Title: Karen Carpenter: Starving for Perfection
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Randy Martin
Starring: Carol Burnett, Belinda Carlisle, Kristin Chenoweth
Runtime: 1 hr 39 mins

What It Is: A comprehensive discovery of the life of talented singer/drummer and pop music icon Karen Carpenter. Her life, her music and her experience told by and through the people that lived with her and were inspired by her. Through archival footage and real testimonials we get a better glimpse of the artist she was and what may have led to the tragic final act of her life. All soundtracked by the wonderful music her and her brother made.

What We Think: This is a topic I wasn’t too familiar with. I never grew up with The Carpenters music but I was familiar with it. I think if you show any person a song by the band they’d never know that they know a song by them. They’re ubiquitous at this point. What isn’t known, even fully is the life Karen led. How what we now know as an eating disorder tore her apart. Martin is respectful of his subject while giving some but not all of the warts. I think that’s where this film could’ve done more. Much unlike the made for TV movie featured in it, the star of which is featured in this doc. I do like that Martin didn’t turn it into a hatchet job of her legacy. Often times biodocs do that and it can slant things. Here that doesn’t happen. It also doesn’t turn into a celebration which the other side of the same coin.

Our Grade: C+, A completely fine documentary that’s sure to satisfy fans of the titular artist. If you are a fan of The Carpenters you’ll probably love this. If you like well-made documentaries about musicians this will definitely hit you in a good spot. It won’t be an easy film to get your hands on, but if you can it’ll certainly be worth it.

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