An Affair of the Heart (Sylvia Caminer, US, 93 mins.)
I wouldn't have thought I'd ever get the chance to tag a post using Rick Springfield's name, but then this DVD showed up in my mailbox. I was never a Springfield fan, but I wasn't a detractor either. I'm old enough to remember his 1980s heyday, and although I never bought any of his records, I did go through a brief General Hospital phase, which coincided with his first run as Dr. Noah Drake (he would return to the show in 2005). This was back when Demi Moore ("Jackie Templeton") was also part of the cast. If anything, I would've pegged Springfield as the breakout movie star, but he decided to make music his primary focus.
Sylvia Caminer's flattering, yet strangely compelling documentary, An Affair of the Heart, doesn't present a conventional portrait of a celebrity. Instead, it's more like 2012's Still Alive, which caught up with 1970s singer-songwriter Paul Williams. If 63-year-old Springfield, who looks 20 years younger, enjoyed his biggest hits, like "Jessie's Girl" and "Don't Talk to Strangers," in the 1980s, his fans have sustained his career, and Caminer profiles a few of the most ardent.
Mike Nipper first posted this video in 2010. That's Rick on guitar.
After a break of almost a decade, Springfield returned to live performing in the 1990s, and fans travel thousands of miles just to see him. His friends Mark Goodman, Linda Blair, and Corey Feldman speak to his past. To Goodman, Springfield was a "dick" and a "lightweight," who's only gotten better and more humble with age. As with the super-fans who’ve congregated around the Grateful Dead and Phish, his shows have spawned friendships and even romances.
Suburban stay-at-home moms JoAnn and Sue welcome the chance to leave their troubles behind for a regular "Rick fix," as they put it. In their case, that means up to 10 shows a year, including Springfield's annual cruise to the Bahamas (and since Goodman participates in that venture, I think it's fair to take anything he says with a grain of salt). Fourteen-year-old guitar player Dustin has been a fan since he was a toddler, a bond he shares with his single dad, Jeff—who looks a little like Springfield—while Steve proposed to his wife, Jill, on stage at a concert.
Pure '80s Velveeta.
Other fans talk about the comfort they took in Springfield songs while recovering from sexual assault and heart surgery (Laurie says her "pity party" over her cardiac woes lasted for 24 years). There's a darker side, too, since Rick addiction has put a strain on Sue's marriage. Oddly, her cardiologist husband, Mike, started out as a New Jersey thrasher,* and he's never understood his wife's obsession.
If there isn't much here about his personal life, Springfield has written a bestselling memoir, Late, Late at Night, that discusses his battles with infidelity, depression, and other more personal matters (amazingly, he's still married to his wife, Barbara, who appears in the film). Watching Caminer's documentary didn't change my mind about his music, but I found his relationships with his fans genuinely touching.
* Mike Devita was the guitarist for Sacred Denial (1982-88), which had a brief run on Atlantic.
My favorite quote: "We touched his butt last time he was here."
Breaking Glass Pictures releases An Affair of the Heart on July 16 (Blu-ray TBA).