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Watching the Venice Film Festival winner is a bit of a schizophrenic experience as two different films, both with their merits, seem to be jostling for attention within the same movie.

If you'd get two for the price of one at your local supermarket, you'd be happy. The movies don't always work that way alas, as All the Beauty and the Bloodshed proves.

The documentary sets out as a look back at the life and career of photographer and artist Nan Goldin, including the suicide of her sister, her bohemian life in seventies New York and her meteoric rise in the art world a decade later.

While there are some interesting insights into Goldin's character, director Laura Poitras often remains curiously detached from her main subject. Not necessarily because Goldin's life isn't passionate - it very much is - but because Poitras has to make room for another film hiding within the same movie.

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed also chronicles Goldin's long fight against the Sackler Family, who have a huge responsibility in the opioid crisis gripping America and the world. Once again this is a fascinating subject, albeit one that deserves a place in the spotlight that it doesn't have to share with another narrative.

Thus the movie, which won the Golden Lion at the 2022 Venice FIlm Festival, remains a disjointed affair throughout most of its runtime, relying on individual sequences to keep you invested.

release: 2022

director: Laura Poitras

starring: Nan Goldin, David Velasco, Megan Kapler, Patrick Radden Keefe


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