The Winehouse Mag

“She’s not a tragic figure.” Friend of Agneta Eckemyr.  

♦ A Winehouse Mag must see. ♦


Penthouse North | Director: Johanna St Michaels | Sweden/USA |83 min

All that glitters isn’t gold. Agneta Eckemyr’s story is one of glamour, triumph and quiet catastrophe.

Agneta was once one of the most stunning women alive. In the late sixties, after her first marriage ended, she was able to keep her dream home, the stunning, highly coveted rooftop penthouse overlooking Central Park in the heart of New York City, which just happened to be one of the most valuable rent controlled apartments around.

During the seventies her undeniable beauty put her on TV, in film, and on magazine covers like Cosmo and Penthouse. She was the talk of the town both in New York and her native Sweden. But that was then. At the time of filming, Agneta is revisiting a screenplay about her life that she wrote 30 years prior, and she is desperately trying to hold onto her one worldly possession – the penthouse owners are ruthlessly trying to kick her out of it so that they can make thousands more in rent.

For years the charismatic beauty found great success as a fashion designer, selling her flowery bohemian designs to well-connected fashionistas and celebrities. Later her glamorous “save the roof” events, where adoring friends came to party and help her make rent, helped her escape some close calls. But her luck has run out. Her designs no longer sell, her beauty has aged, and she has no children or a partner to depend on. (It is a story many of us fear.) We are soon taken on an anxiety ridden ride as Agneta reluctantly and painfully faces her new reality.

The initial goal of the film was to explore the power of beauty — its currency in Western culture, and the challenges that inevitably come when it fades. The times where Agneta discusses her past experiences in Hollywood — often involving misogynistic and exploitive men with power – is disgusting and almost harrowing. It is impossible not to understand that her beauty was also a challenge, and came with pitfalls that society is often to envious to acknowledge.

It is fitting that this story takes place in New York City, a place where beauty and the all-important address can form your identity and define your life.  Chaka V. 

Hot Docs 2014 Review: LOVE & ENGINEERING








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