Pollock

"Very Good"

Pollock Review


Please, please, please, please, please read the book that formed the basis of the movie Pollock. Jackson Pollock: An American Saga won the Pulitzer Prize for a good reason: It's a 934-page masterpiece that gets into the guts of the artist now being celebrated on celluloid by Ed Harris. Published in 1989 and written by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, the tome contains everything about Pollock that was left out of Harris' up-and-down movie -- and, unfortunately, that means 99 percent of the demons, doubters, friends, and forces that inspired Pollock to drink, paint, drink, and paint again.

A good example: Pollock was suicidal, maniacal and violent throughout his 44-year life. The first sentence of Naifeh's and Smith's book -- the very first sentence -- is this quote from Pollock: "I'm going to kill myself." Explains a lot, but for some odd reason, Harris only hints at Pollock's suicidal tendencies in his long-anticipated film.

What Harris does best is show us Pollock painting. Over and over, we see Harris dripping paint on large canvases and throwing around the oils like they were enemies that need to be splattered dead. Reds, yellows, blues, and grays come alive in Pollock, letting viewers exhilarate in the glory of creating great abstract art. For people not familiar with Pollock's paintings, Harris' movie will be a revelation. Much of the movie was filmed on Pollock's former Long Island estate, where he did his most celebrated work. Harris, who directed himself, deserves praise for effectively recreating Pollock's last years and for learning to actually paint like Pollock. Harris isn't faking it when he hunches over a blank canvas and splashes paint everywhere.

Harris is also good at capturing some of Pollock's notorious rages. It's chilling when Harris starts yelling at a pushy filmmaker and practically stalks him to the family dinner table, telling him, "I'm not the phony! You're the phony! I'm not the phony! You're the phony!" There is genuine fear in that scene, and it was fear that followed Pollock from his birth in 1912 to his death in 1956.

In the role of Lee Krasner, Pollock's wife, Marcia Gay Harden is perfect. With her thick, New York accent and controlling tendencies, Harden's Krasner helps drive Pollock's artistic career at a crucial period. Unfortunately, there is no context. Krasner wasn't the only one who propped up Pollock. Though patron Peggy Guggenheim, brother Sande Pollock, and art critic Clement Greenberg are portrayed in Pollock, missing are the long line of backers that date back to Pollock's early years. Where are artists Thomas Hart Benton and John Graham, whose influence on Pollock is well-chronicled in Naifeh's and Smith's book? And where are the legions of therapists and doctors who worked with Pollock for so many years -- therapists and doctors who tried getting Pollock to open up about his sexual confusion, his love-hate relationship with his mother and his lifelong abuse of alcohol?

None of that is in the movie, which begins in 1941, when Pollock is 29 and starting to make a name for himself. Pollock ends with a written note about Pollock's and Krasner's life, but -- at the very least -- the film should have started with a written note about Pollock's early years, when his dysfunctional family formed his sense of self. Too bad. Harris had a good chance to flush out the real Jackson Pollock. Instead, we get an interesting glimpse of the man who became "America's first art star."

A final note: Over the years, many people apparently told Harris that he looks like Pollock, and he does. The physical resemblance may be one reason Harris was so devoted to making this film. (It took 10 years to bring Pollock's life to the big screen.) So obsessed was Harris that he put on 30 pounds to accurately portray Pollock's heavyset last year of life. Like Elvis and other artists, Pollock's weight gain was a portent of a greater physical breakdown.

Pollock gets an earful.



Pollock

Facts and Figures

Run time: 122 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th May 2001

Box Office USA: $7.3M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 87 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jackson Pollock, as Lee Krasner, as Dan Miller, as Ruth Kligman, as Howard Putzel, as Tony Smith, as Willem DeKooning, David Leary as Charles Pollock, as Sande Pollock, as Helen Frankenthaler

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.