With Sinéad O’Connor’s name, two images may come to mind: an androgynous, ultra-cool buzzed head in a black turtleneck, and a ripped-up photograph of Pope John Paul II. Director Kathryn Ferguson’s documentary Nothing Compares is an excellent primer on the captivating Irish singer’s brief moment of skyrocketing fame and politically-targeted plummet, which goes far further than just aesthetics or controversy to take a dedicated look at the origins of a fascinating, outspoken voice. Through poetic recreation, sharp-tongued archival interviews, and indelible moments of culture-making, Ferguson paints a fascinating portrait of a woman whose freedom was found through her own music.
Narrated by O’Connor, as well as her friends, colleagues, and admirers, the documentary cements O’Connor as a protest singer more than a pop star and reveals a persona that invites newer audiences to celebrate her activism alongside her one-of-a-kind voice. In an era where our relationship to celebrity, especially young women in the spotlight, is facing a reckoning, Nothing Compares mounts a compelling argument for the reassessment of yet another intense, intensely interesting musician demonized far beyond the scope of her actions.--Shayna Maci Warner
Belfast-born Kathryn Ferguson is an award-winning director whose innovative and boundary-pushing documentary work has screened globally. After a decade of focusing on short-form work centred on identity, gender politics and community, she has recently completed her first feature documentary, Nothing Compares.