Some might characterize what filmmaker Ross McElwee does as navel-gazing. But in the hands of this veteran documentarian, that which might be self-indulgent egomania from a lesser artist is often the stuff of quiet revelation.
Now in his 60s, McElwee has assembled a body of work that’s beginning to coalesce as a comprehensive autobiography, covering in various films his early struggles with romantic love, eventual marriage and the birth of a child. But where once he was a man struggling to find his own path forward, he’s now a man nearer the end of the trail. As the title suggests, his latest film, Photographic Memory, is about how we process the past.
Yet while McElwee is looking back, it’s still largely as a means to understand the present and shape the future. In this case, it’s now the road ahead of his son that concerns him: McElwee’s oldest child, Adrian, is now 21, and Dad feels like he’s losing the connection the two have shared over the years, which he puts on display with clips from throughout the boy’s life.
Continue reading the rest of my review over at NPR.
Tags | NPR | review | Ross McElwee | documentary | autobiography | film essay | aging | technology | nostalgia