Pollock finally came down
south this week, not to Baton Rouge, of course, but to New Orleans. But
it was worth the wait and worth the trip. This is a very powerful film.
It is the brainchild of Ed Harris who both directs and stars in the title
role. Harris became interested in doing this film when his father told
him that he looked like Pollock. Pollock, of course, is Jackson
Pollock, the famous American painter with the distinctive style of
dripping his paint onto the canvas. Some of the best scenes in this
film are re-creations of Pollock producing some of his paintings. Although
Ed Harris dominates this film with his performance, Marcia Gay Harden who
plays Lee Krasner, Pollock's wife, is up to the task of matching him. More
than anything, this story is about these two people and their life together.
Krasner was also an artist. After she and Pollock get together, she slowly
begins to give up her own life to take care of her husband. Pollock seems
unable to do even the simplest things for himself and gives the impression
that without Krasner he never would have stayed alive long enough to produce
his art. In one poignant scene, he sits at a table while his wife
cuts his nails for him. Krasner also acts as his agent, working to get
his paintings shown and sold. An early patron is Peggy Guggenheim played
with flair by Amy Madigan (Harris' ex-wife in real life). The person who
did Madigan's hair for the movie is given a ``special effects" credit.
Guggenheim and Clement Greenberg (Jeffrey Tambor) are the first to recognize
that Pollock's art is worth something. Pollock's life was a classic
tragedy. He had great talent but was an alcoholic and under the influence
he became a monster. He had a meteoric rise to fame when he developed his
new painting technique but then, just as fast, he stopped when he felt
that he was done with it and began to drink again. Harris is perfect
for the role of the passionate, out-of-control Pollock. He has shown
his acting smarts in many previous roles from The
Right Stuff to The Truman
Show. But Harden kind of comes out of nowhere. She has
been around a while but has made a lot of forgettable movies. She
did have a nice supporting role in Space
Cowboys. Together, Harden and Harris have a great chemistry which
brings their relationship to life and makes you really feel, with a shudder,
what their life together was like. Harris does a very good job of directing.
The story is told very cleanly. The shots are simple and almost newsreel-like.
Now that Pollock is playing almost everywhere, you should go and
see it. Harris and Harden really earned their Oscar nominations.