Great artist, but this documentary remains a double-edged sword
27 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This documentary is director John Maloof's first work. While I thought, as a whole, it was a good piece of work, I have some criticisms too. First of all, when he interviews practically himself, it really gets a bit too self-promoting for my taste. yes he is the one who found the negatives, but still, there are ways this could have been handled with more class. Aside from him, it is an interesting snippet that the nephew of the famous late film critic Roger Siskel was also involved with directing here.

The story can be summarized quickly. A nurse took hundreds of thousands of photos during her lifetime and these were found and made her popular after her death. While I am okay with the photos being published, I am not really okay with the filmmaker's involvement in her life. She obviously was a very secretive woman and I just cannot accept the fact that Maloof did deep research into her life and past, such as traveling to France into a small village where she lived. Due to this research, we found out that she was a very eccentric lady who obviously had to fight with her inner demons, but it just feels wrong that the public knows about her loneliness, her hoarding or her violence against children now. She should only be judged for her work as a photographer in my opinion (except by the people who she was directly in contact with), but not for everything else by the broad masses. Especially the insight into her life as an old lady is pretty sad and I cannot imagine she would have wanted the public to know about any of it. Interviews are mostly with people she knew directly, including Phil Donahue and excluding a very random comment added by actor Tim Roth at one point.

All in all, I would still recommend this documentary, but the only thing which it is really worth watching for, are the photos, thankfully the center of the film. Most of these are simply wonderful and depict her extraordinary talent.
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