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From its inception, this epically grand film (188 minutes) ambushes one’s attention, and in my case, has not relinquished its hold, days after experiencing it; a phenom, magnificent in scope, narrative and vision; hypothetically based on the life of celebrated painter, Gerhard Richter (1932); director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (“The Lives of Others”) tackles the ambiguity of artistic modes, meandering, meaningless interpretations by warped ideologues; the film commences in 1937 Dresden, at a Degenerative Art Exhibition; five-year-old “Kurt” (Cal Cohrs) accompanied by his aunt, “Elizabeth” (wistful Saskia Rosendahl) listens, as a guide disparages the soulless undertakings of Kandinsky, Picasso, Nolde, Beckmann, Klee; painting is an inherent factor in his DNA, he sees magic in these outlawed works; Elizabeth is diagnosed with mental illness; her parting words, “never look away”, beauty lies in reality; placed in a clinic led by gynecologist “Professor Carl Seeband”; Sebastian Koch’s cogent, slimy depiction of a man in full alignment with Nazism, and its philosophy of eugenics and forced sterilization, metaphorically defines the plague of the Third Reich.

After the war Kurt (Tom Schilling) forced to paint in the restrictive canon of Socialist Realism; idealized, glorified communist values; painting and sculpture must reference the collective; cauterization of individuality, ignites Kurt and his wife “Ellie Seeband”, (luminous Paula Beer), only child of nefarious Dr. Seeband, escape from East Germany, to the artistic mecca of the Dusseldorf Academy of Art (Gerhard Richter attended, 1961-64) a hot bed of innovation; the institution of self-discovery, revelation, cultivation of masters Anselm Kiefer, Sigmar Polke; “Professor Antonius van Verten” (Oliver Masucci) reincarnation of Joseph Beuys (1921-1986), felt/fat artist, Founder of Fluxus, who cataclysmically kindles Kurt’s definitive enlightenment and his virtuoso technique of blending painting and photography; precocity unveiled as the process is revealed to the viewer.

“Never Look Away” is a hypnotic composition of ingenious filmmaking, political, historical, artistic allusions, marvelous coupling by compelling actors; every scene, sublimely alluding to looking, seeing, ignoring obfuscations, leads to the wisdom of John Keats “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all/ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”





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One comment

  1. Penefix, we recently rented this movie and quickly became enthralled in this very compelling story. Your review captures the film perfectly!

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