Lindsay McCormick, a.k.a. Treasure Rose’s debut feature is a year old this weekend, to celebrate I’m going to try and get under the skin of this fascinating, bizarre work.
Back in February 2018, the short film Axl Rose’s Daughter was released on YouTube to entertain – and baffle – the viewing public. Since its release, the film has racked up over 35,000 views, and split viewer reaction almost exactly down the middle.
For the uninitiated, the film at its most basic is a coming of age comic melodrama about a young woman called Treasure, who one day decides to leave her foster parents’ Pennsylvania home to track down her biological father. Said father just so happens to be Axl Rose of Guns ‘n’ Roses fame.
Treasure’s journey is captured in a mixture of home video footage and guerrilla filmmaking mid-road trip across America, and the low-key, low-budget aesthetic is an interesting juxtaposition against the large central performance, and against the weirder elements brought in towards the end of the film.
When looking a little closer at Axl Rose’s Daughter as a whole though, those weirder elements start to make sense, as the film’s central journey proceeds to explore America and its mythology. From the concept of the road trip itself to Guns ‘n’ Roses, Elvis as God, Dollywood and even the Moon to an extent, the film unabashedly embraces the eccentricities of the United States as Treasure comes to terms with the hard facts of what her relationship with her biological father is doomed to be.
As heavy as that sounds, this isn’t a film that takes itself seriously. Both the lead and supporting characters seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves in filming this, even in the moments that feel – and may well be – unplanned; the car breakdown scene springs to mind most prominently here. It definitely feels like a film that is laughing right alongside its audience.
Axl Rose’s Daughter is definitely a film that merits a rewatch. I’ve seen it several times since it was released on YouTube last year, and my appreciation for what the film is doing has definitely increased with those revisits. That said, this is a film that suits the tautology of ‘you either get it or you don’t’ a little too well.
While I’ve done my best to categorise Axl Rose’s Daughter for my own convenience, it’s slippery enough that a wider audience might not be able to get a grasp on what’s in front of them. Of course that’s entirely respectable for a film as personal and small-scale as this, but there’s no doubt that a majority would be frustrated by such an approach; the worst that can be said about this film is that it does feel rather like an elaborate in-joke amongst Treasure Rose and her friends.
In short, Axl Rose’s Daughter is a deftly made art piece that, for its 26 minute and 30 second run-time, rides the line between self-expression and self-indulgence with confidence. For something to fill a little under 30 minutes of your time, you could do a lot worse.