*NOTE: This review is going to be a CAPSULE review, which means it’ll be a tight, quick critique of the film.
Milos Forman was an all-time great director. He was a major player in the Czech New Wave, a film movement in Czechoslovakia where Forman and a number of other rebellious filmmakers made avant garde, cinema verité-like films in response to their countries propaganda-fueled cinema. He’s a two time Oscar winner for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus, and was nominated for a third time for The People vs Larry Flynt. Forma made unique, interesting films featuring complex, interesting main characters.
Unfortunately, the documentary Forman vs. Forman isn’t nearly as compelling as the films Forman made. The film is very brief with only a 77 minute runtime, and we barely get to know the great director. The beginning of the film is the most interesting, as Forman discusses how his parents died in concentration camps during the Holocaust and he was passed around from orphanages and different families for years. We also learn about Forman’s life in film school and how he became an integral part of the Czech New Wave movement and established a unique visual style and way of telling stories.
However, when the film jumps to Forman’s career in American cinema, the moves very fast which doesn’t allow us to get to grow with Forman. We see him win his Oscars and his other films in America, but we aren’t given a lot of insight into his decision to make the movies that he did or why he made them the way he did. I was really hoping to get inside the mind of the great filmmaker but everything we got in this film could have been found on Wikipedia.
The film ends on a sweet note, as Forman, a man who never really had a home growing up, is established in his home with his family and says, “this is home.” The film doesn’t build to this moment, however, but it is a nice touch. For such an interesting filmmaker, I was expecting a more interesting documentary than Forman vs. Forman.
Forman vs. Foreman is playing at the 55th Chicago International Film Festival in the DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION category.
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