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Sinéad O’Connor Gets Her Redemption in ‘Nothing Compares’ Documentary at Sundance


Sinéad O’Connor Gets Her Redemption in ‘Nothing Compares’ Documentary at Sundance

“I think it’s funny that the world fell in love with me because of crying and a tear,” Sinéad O’Connor says in a voiceover for the new documentary Nothing Compares. “I went and did a lot of crying and everyone was like, ‘Oh, you crazy bitch.’ But actually wait. Hold on. You fell in love with that tear.” She takes a pause before finishing the thought: “That was a mirror.”

Nothing Compares, which premiered (virtually) Friday night at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, chronicles the career, the controversy, the legacy, the misconception, and, one could argue, the redemption and vindication of Sinéad O’Connor. That crying and that tear refers to the stunning music video for her chart-topping 1990 cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” one of two pillars of her pop culture iconography. The other is…decidedly more controversial, and arguably destroyed her career.

Directed by filmmaker Kathryn Ferguson, the documentary contextualizes the abuse the Irish singer suffered as a child, how that affected her as she pursued art and music, and the way that pain was unleashed on the public stage as she dressed her pop stardom up with provocative activism. It’s largely centered on the years between 1987 and 1993, when the nonconformist artist dazzled a changing industry with her vocals–capable of a lullaby lilt and banshee wail with equal prowess–and her defiant image as a young girl from Dublin with a shaved head and rebellious confidence.

That confidence carried over to her messaging, a relentless adherence to speaking out against injustice with fiery public statements and attention-grabbing stunts. The most infamous of these, tearing up a photo of the Pope in protest of the Catholic Church’s silencing of abuse victims during a 1992 Saturday Night Live performance, is the climax of the documentary—and, here, it’s being revisited through modern eyes.

At the height of O’Connor’s popularity, few other artists managed to capture as much attention for their music—“Nothing Compares 2 U” vaulted her to international-sensation status—or their unflinching politics and values. As…

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