This documentary bio of the musician best known as guitarist for the Rolling Stones has all the trappings of the well-worn template: cool and colorful archival footage of rock’s heyday; a backdrop of alcohol and drug abuse; candid interviews with famous friends and peers revealing the man behind the myth. Yet, what Somebody Up There Likes Me also has, in addition to the trusted direction of Mike Figgis, is a subject at its center that seems as content to be thought of as a quiet and conscientious fine art painter as he does loose and decadent six-stringer for the Stones. For that reason alone, Ronnie Wood is worth the hour-plus of viewing time.
Figgis, to his credit, respects and details Wood’s pursuits on canvas with as much care and detail as anything Wood did on stage or vinyl. Sure, the years with Rod Stewart and the Faces, and then with Mick, Keith and the rock-and-roll circus are still the reliable calling card, and justifiably so, and make up the lion’s share of the discussions. Still, the linear progression of Wood working on a few pieces- namely sketches and paintings of shapely models- as the story unwinds steals more than a few scenes. It’s enjoyable just to watch him work.
Humbled by addiction and brushes with cancer, and still smiling and laughing, no doubt Wood is grateful for that somebody up there. So, if there’s room for one more rock and roller’s life story, then there’s certainly room for Ronnie Wood, the musician AND the artist.