Samantha Montgomery was a 38-year-old single woman living in New Orleans, working at a nursing facility for the elderly during the day and pouring her heart out on YouTube at night in candid video diary postings that hinted at the emotional darkness she was trying to stave away. She spoke about the physical and sexual abuse she suffered as a child. She talked about the biography she was planning to write, to be titled Flying on Broken Wings.
Mostly, though, she sang — original compositions without musical accompaniment — and amassed anywhere between 50 and 80 views. In one early, heartbreaking scene in Presenting Princess Shaw, she attends an open-mic night at a local pub, intending to perform, only to see half of the handful of patrons there walk out before she has even begun.
But unbeknownst to Samantha, someone was paying close attention to her music. Ophir Kutiel, a musician in Israel who goes by the name Kutiman and specializes in mashing up YouTube videos of unknown artists and splicing them into video-art presentations, had noticed her songs. What happens next, which was captured with uncommon intimacy by filmmaker Ido Haar, is extraordinary — a Cinderella tale with the unlikeliest of heroines.
Samantha allowed Haar to start filming her life before she knew what was being done to her music on the other side of the world. She was already used to being candid about her private life, so she’s a natural subject for a documentary (in one scene, we see her reunite with her ex-girlfriend of eight years for a catch-up visit, neither woman seeming the slightest bit self-conscious about being filmed). The emotional connection we develop with her as the movie unfolds pays off in the final 20 minutes, which is about as happy of an ending as anyone could imagine, except this one really happened. Sometimes, good things happen to good people.
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Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
With: Samantha Montgomery, Ophir Kutiel.
Writer-director: Ido Haar.
A Magnolia Pictures release. Running time: 80 minutes. Vulgar language, adult themes. Plays at 9 p.m. Monday March 7 at Regal South Beach. Samantha Montgomery will attend.