February 2022: NOW SHOWING: Nothing Compares


Sinéad O'Connor appears in Nothing Compares by Kathryn Ferguson, an official selection of the World Cinema: Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo: Independent News and Media.
Sinéad O'Connor performing on stage

Before Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish, and Ariana Grande, there was Sinéad O’Connor. In 1987 O’Connor released her debut album The Lion and The Cobra to critical acclaim. But it would be her next album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, and the single Nothing Compares to You in 1990 that would catapult O’Connor to superstardom. The talented Irish singer/songwriter with her haunting voice would use that voice to express her opinions on child abuse, the Catholic Church before us here in the United States knew what was happening, and women's rights, often leading to controversy and ridicule.

The new documentary, Nothing Compares, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, charts OʼConnorʼs phenomenal rise to worldwide fame and examines how she used her voice at the height of her stardom before her iconoclastic personality led to her exile from the pop mainstream. Focusing on Sinéad’s prophetic words and deeds from 1987 to 1993, the film presents an authored, richly cinematic portrait of this fearless trailblazer through a contemporary feminist lens. The archive-led documentary features era-defining music videos and concert performances alongside unseen footage. The film includes a new interview with Sinéad herself, in which she reflects on events in her own words and from a present-day perspective. Intimate first-hand contributor interviews add to the tapestry with additional insights from contemporary artists, musicians, and social commentators discussing broader themes of Irish history, politics, and global activism, all the while reflecting on her artistry, impact, and legacy.

The documentary does an outstanding job covering the singer’s history before entering the mainstream. Before the pressures for her to conform to social norms about women and the consistent expectation of people expecting her to sit down and sing - never using her voice to right the wrongs she sees in this world. The famous ripping of the Pope’s photo on Saturday Night Live made O’Connor a pariah. The film did a superb job at pushing the parallel of what was happening in the Catholic Church and the United States’ refusal to educate themselves on the topic.