Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (19)
| Top Critics (10)
| Fresh (18)
| Rotten (1)
This intimate film is a fascinating glimpse into the emotions and art of a New York family whose bright star committed suicide 30 years ago at age 22.
It's impossible to listen to Francesca's parents, deadly serious about art as a higher calling, without feeling both saddened and disturbed.
The Woodmans tells the compelling, if slightly disturbing, story of a family coming to grips with love, ego, resentment and loss.
Willis provides no easy answers and points no fingers, but the search proves fascinating.
Woodman's black-and-white photographs, many of them self-portraits, convey a haunting sense of isolation; of something forever lost from the empty, almost decaying rooms in which she drapes herself.
Willis works to turn The Woodmans into an existential mystery, through a soundtrack full of moody vibes, interviews shot in tight close-ups, and the floating words from Francesca's diaries that Willis inserts as a kind of answer from beyond the grave.
By the time it ends, however, it has applied enough fine brush strokes to create a subtle and vaguely disturbing portrait of a dysfunctional family of artists.
Willis' careful balancing act between portraying a unique family unit and the peculiarities of genius winds up making The Woodmans disturbing in an unexpected way.
The Woodmans isn't out to demonize Francesca's upbringing or to play the blame game for her untimely death.
A journeyman-like investigation into the life and legacy of photographer Francesca Woodman, C. Scott Willis' The Woodmans is a conventional talking-heads-and-clips documentary.
a movie that burrows into questions about how our talents are molded, how artistic promise can lead to crippling loneliness, and the burden of great expectations.
Though compelling, it is a complicated and difficult experience to watch The Woodmans.
There are two ways this documentary could have functioned well enough to actually be intriguing:
A) Make it solely about Betty and George Woodman, husband and wife octogenarian artists, while briefly mentioning the suicide of their daughter Francesca, also an artist, as a past tragedy. Granted this version has less nudity but still...
B) Make it solely about Francesca while getting brief testimony from her parents.
Because combining them into two movies does not work. On the one hand, Francesca's ghost continues to overwhelm any work her parents continue to do in the present day. That is while the documentary manages to gleam some insights when talking to Francesca's friends and acquaintances but hits a brick wall when talking to her parents since all parents usually know less about their child when she becomes an adult and leaves home which is especially true in this case. And that's not to mention the film being that much less interesting when the focus is on Betty and George, to be honest.
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