Nothing Compares highlights Sinéad O’Connor’s career in a world that wasn’t ready to hear her voice.
Nothing Compares was screened as part of Sheffield DocFest. All words of this review were written entirely by the writers at Cinamore.
Nothing Compares, directed by Kathryn Ferguson tells the story of Irish pop-star Sinéad O’Connor during a time of The Troubles, religious trauma, and her own self-expression of issues that are gaining momentum decades too late.
Sinéad O’Connor is of course unequivocally synonymous with her single ‘Nothing Compares 2 U‘ from which the title of the film derives, but the film presents a different understanding of the song’s meaning.
No artist, no musician, no contemporary figurehead of change compares to the weight that Sinéad O’Connor carried in a time when no one was prepared to listen.
Contextualising the Dublin-born singer, Nothing Compares tackles O’Connor’s upbringing in the tumultuous time of Irish history, with Catholicism at its height of influence, and the silent trauma that the Irish carry.
It was when O’Connor fell pregnant with her son Jack that the film begins to clearly show parallels with the modern-day. Her production label bullied the singer continuously to abort her child as it would affect her career’s longevity, and therefore their bottom line, however, upon refusing to listen and conform, it began the first of many forms of rebellion from the singer.
The beauty of the singer’s contrasting image with her shaved head and rugged leather jackets, and the metaphors of the skinhead community reinforce the nuanced understanding that O’Connor has over her image, and how the media twisted this to present her in a negative light whenever it wanted but yet spent time celebrating the raw visuals of the Nothing Compares 2 U music video.
Though most interestingly, Nothing Compares shows the vulnerability of O’Connor reflecting on her growth as a musician.
Transitioning from being a Grammy award winner, and overnight success, to the subsequent windfall of hate following her refusal to perform at a venue if they played the Star-Spangled Banner before the singer took to the stage.
But what transpires, is instead a subtle comparison between the Irish singer and the treatment of female artists in the industry including people like Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande with the power given to the media in their successes, or failures.
Nothing Compares left me with a longing for difference, not only for the industry as a whole but how Sinéad O’Connor was treated for speaking up and demanding change in a world that wasn’t ready to hear her.
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