Limelight Review

Peter Gatien, a striking man made slightly more intimidating by an eye patch he sports after losing an eye playing hockey in his youth, is the subject of Billy Corben's (Square Grouper) warts-and-all documentary Limelight, produced in part by Gatien's daughter Jen. Gatien masterminded several famous nightclubs, though the doc takes a look at Limelight, built on the site of a former Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion. Sold off to a drug rehab program and then to Gatien, Limelight blossomed into one of the hottest spots in town. The founder overlooked the introduction of new musical styles into the mainstream and the rise of the club kids, one whom happened to be Michael Alig. Alig's murder of Andre Melendez cast media attention on the club and certainly aided its final shuttering, one of several attempts to close down the spot in the 1990s.

It doesn't hurt to mention the claim that recreational drugs were so ever-present at Limelight that it became an equal conduit for those looking to score. This arguably led to Gatien's persecution by the Giuliani administration looking to reform the New York nightlife. Corben's film approaches this witch hunt by doubling down on interviews, which are fascinating since the subjects that giving them are frequently off-kilter. This aspect of the doc works so well that the nuts and bolts history behind the club and Gatien's rise to power comes off as a bit of a letdown. Included are interviews with former club goers as well as the lawmen that raided the clubs, aided by stylistic touches that are suitable considering the subject matter, but frequently superfluous.

Gatien, and his former dominion, remains largely masked even as the film devotes considerable time to presenting the day and age to us. It trumpets the era plenty well, but can't possibly capture the whirlwind nightlife that grew to mythical proportions, certainly enough to inspire a film like this.

DVD Bonus Features

Ten deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer are all we get. The deleted scenes are welcome but don't offer much more detail on the subject, only supplementary footage and interviews.

"Limelight" is on sale January 24, 2012 and is rated R. Documentary. Directed by Billy Corben. Written by N/A. Starring 50 Cent, Moby, Ed Koch.

Mark Zhuravsky • Staff Writer

I'm a prolific blogger, writer and editor who loves film.


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