Thursday, 21 October 2010

Little White Lies Review: The Arbor

Before I post my review on here, I just want to urge you to go to see The Arbor, it's an incredible piece of filmmaking. The director, artist Clio Barnard, really utilises the properties of film to create something with real visual flair and emotional resonance as well as social pertinence. I don't think a piece like this could be produced in any other medium.

It's also really gratifying to see an artist getting their work released in cinemas whilst still retaining the creative freedom of producing work for a gallery setting. It feels like the extension of an art practice rather than a leap into being a commercial filmmaker, which is kind of how I felt about Steve McQueen and Sam Taylor-Wood making feature films. Sure, as artists they're probably given more scope (and expectation) to be 'original', but there's still rules of narrative commercial filmmaking that have to be adhered to, gotta have an arc after all.

Maybe because The Arbor is a mash up of fiction, faction and documentary it can get away with more. Gillian Wearing's feature film Self Made looks like a similar crossbreed of documentary and fiction - looking forward to that one very much. Anyway, this comment is longer than my actual review, short and sweet, here you go...


Clio Barnard’s dissection of the life and legacy of playwright Andrea Dunbar is a fascinating look at working-class Britain and the effects of growing up on a gritty Bradford estate. But more than that, it’s a stunning meditation on the subjectivity of memory.

Dunbar’s children – now in their twenties – recall their past in voiceover as actors lip sync their lines, with her two daughters taking centre stage with mutually sympathetic yet drastically different accounts of their upbringing... (read more)

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