Eight Miles High
- Director: Achim Bornhak
- Cast: Natalia Avelon, Matthias Schweighöfer, David Scheller
- Running time: 114 minutes
Like a shapelier Forrest Gump, the German model Uschi Obermaier had a knack for witnessing history without ever affecting it. A close consort of The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and the leaders of Germany's radical left, she was a poster child for the counterculture of the '60s and '70s, doffing her clothes for the covers of news magazines and lending a touch of glamour to political protests. The trouble for Achim Bornhak's biopic Eight Miles High is that, apart from being famous, Obermaier doesn't appear to have actually done much. As played by Polish-born newcomer Natalia Avelon, she's a shallow dilettante in thrall to ideas beyond her ken, Marianne Faithfull without the talent.
At times, Bornhak shows an awareness of his heroine's vapidity. She steals away from the grungy anti-capitalists in Munich's Kommune 1 to apply a touch of eye shadow; going without clothes is one thing, going without makeup quite another. But the movie is itself so trite and insipid that it's hard to tell when it's satirizing Obermaier's inanity and when it's merely aping it.
Obermaier falls in with the Stones at the height of their drugged-out decadence, beginning a long-term affair with Keith Richards, risibly incarnated by Alexander Scheer as a crooked-hipped caricature with an unmistakable German accent. At the same time, she falls into a tumultuous on-and-off relationship with Dieter Bockhorn (David Scheller), a sleazy club owner whose volatile temper and abusive behavior apparently qualifies him as the love of her life.
Eight Miles High is premised on Obermaier's status as a modern-day Helen of Troy. When a boyfriend's comrades object that he's compromised his free-love ideals to assuage Obermaier's jealousy, he shouts, "I would give up any revolution for that woman!" But since the blank-faced Avelon has the magnetism of a bar of soap, the best Bornhak can manage is to have her strip as often as possible, preferably in the vicinity of a flattering backlight. If the movie had greater style, it might approach the delirious badness of The Valley Of The Dolls, but it's too dull to qualify as camp. Notwithstanding the occasional unintended guffaw, Obermaier's fabulous life is resoundingly unexciting. At one point, she complains, "Concert, limousine, concert, limousine—it's all so boring!" You said it, sister.