Linda Perry: Let It Die Here [Tribeca Film Festival Review]

Linda Perry is a rock star, a songwriter, a producer, a survivor, a mother, a rebel, and now the subject of a documentary film bearing her name. Linda Perry: Let It Die Here, which premiered in the Spotlight+ section of the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival, finds her at a crossroads. Having spent years writing and producing for other artists, she now tries to figure out how she wants to represent herself musically. The structure is a little different than many rock docs because director Don Hardy knows it needs to be to get to the heart of this multi-talented woman.

Perry made a name for herself as a member of 4 Non Blondes, the alt rock band whose song “What’s Up” was inescapable in the ‘90s. She walked away from that success, becoming one of the most in-demand writers in the business. Among her hits are Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” and Pink’s “Get the Party Started.” She’s worked with Celine Dion, Dolly Parton, Adele, Gwen Stefani, and Ariana Grande. The opening scene of the film finds Perry saying she knows how to write for those artists; how to write for herself is a little tricker.

This is not a typical Wikipedia-style documentary that merely recounts a person’s accomplishments in chronological order. Some significant events from Perry’s life, including her marriage to actress Sara Gilbert, are only mentioned in a perfunctory manner. Instead, the film dives into her personality and how the tragedies and triumphs of her life have fueled her creativity. The heavily tattooed, perpetually hat-wearing Perry discusses the impact of being abused by her parents and her quest for identity. Hardy focuses less on her achievements and more on her personality, helping us to understand that every Linda Perry-penned song is a reflection of who she is in some form.

It helps that Perry is willing to be raw and honest. That includes sharing a home video she shot in her closet in which she has an emotional breakdown while dancing to Supertramp’s “Take the Long Way Home.” She shows similar vulnerability in addressing her double mastectomy at the end. Whereas most docs of this sort are about what a person has done, Let It Die Here is about who Linda Perry is. Having a complete portrait of the person helps to put her work into larger perspective, making it clear that a strong sense of humanity is at the core of each song.

Celebrity admirers like Dolly Parton, Brandi Carlisle, and Kate Hudson appear on-camera to celebrate Perry, and there’s a ton of fascinating performance footage as songs are created and developed. It’s undeniable that Linda Perry is one of the most important figures in popular music today. Let It Die Here gets at the emotional quality that has allowed her to thrive professionally, even as she struggles personally.

Linda Perry: Let It Die Here

Linda Perry: Let It Die Here is unrated, but contains strong language and mature thematic content. The running time is 1 hour and 33 minutes.

© 2024 Mike McGranaghan