Monday, October 13, 2014

Fantastic Fest 2014 Review: MY LIFE DIRECTED BY NICHOLAS WINDING REFN- Jonesy's Take

Directed by Liv Corfixen
Synopsis: A documentary about Refn while he's trying to make and produce ONLY GOD FORGIVES. 

The life of a director is not exactly a glamorous one. There are long hours, studio mingling, and the fear that your movie won't be accepted by the public. Nicolas Wending Refn, who made a splash with DRIVE, is on a quest to make his next film at the time, ONLY GOD FORGIVES, and this time his wife, Liv Corfixen, documents his personal journey in making his next film.

As his wife, Corfixen gets insights other documentarians wouldn't have access to. When she talks with her husband, there's that added level of familiarity, thus the conversations feel more organic than if he were interviewed by an outsider. As the film shows, Refn is obsessed with perfection. He spends countless hours pouring over and making tweaks to the script, meeting with people from the production, and hovering over almost every aspect of the film. He's a man of passion, and sometimes his family falls second to the production. But when he does make time, his softer side emerges, and it's startling to think how this man could make such violent films.

Though it's her film, there are elements of Refn's need for control even when she's trying to make a film. She's not allowed to film when there's a crisis, and there are even moments when Refn turns the camera on her and takes control of her film. Even the title itself suggests a man who has control issues and strives for perfection. It's eye-opening to give a soul to a director. Often times, and I know I'm guilty of this as well, we forget that these are just people, and sometimes their work will be flawed or not as good as their previous film. It's easy as a movie goer to spout off my opinion behind the safety of my computer. Who knows if any director actual sees what I have written, but if a film's reviews are mainly negative, that has have some effect on the director. Of course, it's part of the job, but one can only take so much negativity on something they've poured their lives into before it begins to effect their life. Plus, his paranoia about his film not being accepted doesn't meld with his perfection issues. Will any version of ONLY GOD FORGIVES actually be good enough for him?

One minor set back is the film's length. It's extremely short clocking in at only 58 minutes. It barely scratches the surface of the complex life of a director. Giving the film just thirty more minutes would have given the film a bit more depth. It's not entirely clear if there wasn't enough material to make the film longer, which seems unlikely, or if they just heavily edited the film to keep it super short. Either way, more story would have made this documentary even better.

Even with a minor flaw, anyone who's interested in film should see this movie. It's interesting, intimate, and gives a personal touch to the life and work of Refn.

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