Projections - Movie Reviews

Pollock Pollock

Ed Harris brings much vitality and torment to one of the strongest visual impressionist artists of the 20th century as he stars and directs with passion that does justice to Jackson Pollock in Pollock.  Feral vivacity and vulnerability are well etched in Pollock by Harris as the highly influential abstract painter and, though Pollock is fairly routine by biopic standards, there is much to admire based on his long association and marriage to fellow artist Lee Krasner, acted with much fire by Marcia Gay Harden (Meet Joe Black, Miller's Crossing).

From the script based on the biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, Harris the director films without a deep look into an increasing neurotic, abusive man,  Nearly a decade in the making, the focus isn't psychological in nature, but how the man lived his life, expressing himself through his alcoholic lifestyle, affecting the quality of his artwork.

Often irate and questioning himself, Pollock finds solace with a drink in his troubling journey to make his portraits come alive.  And Harden's Krasner sees the man to be the one who could be a galvanizing force as she visits his cozy Greenwich Village flat when paintings by both are scheduled to appear in the same exhibit.

Harris understands the dynamic which develops between Lee and Pollock.  Harden makes her role illuminate in prodding him to focus more on his work which impresses Peggy Guggenheim (Amy Madigan, Harris' actual wife) to display Pollock's abstract work at her gallery, "Art of This Century."

It is evident that Harris and Harden have actually painted in the manner of their characters in preparation for Pollock.  Krasner and Pollock solidify their relationship in matrimony and she convinces him to work in a quieter atmosphere - away from the lure of vices in the city, into the placidness of Long Island as he gives up booze while working in a studio without outside temptations.

But as he becomes revered as America's leading artist after marrying Krasner in 1945, Pollock spirals downward when he goes off the wagon.  Harris follows the last 15 years of the artist's too brief and often dour life.  Depression leads finally to a fatal automobile accident for a man who spattered paint in a way which broke through to critics and aficionados alike, but, at last, couldn't stay in control when not handling his brush.

Art lovers especially will find joy in how Harris recreates Pollock's techniques of dripping, splashing, and drizzling, with empirical power to believe that he was on the verge of something wonderful.  Taking on subject matter nearly as challenging as his part, Harris still makes Pollock somewhat likable even through his most bruising times, rendering a serious individual yearning to be appreciated.  Pollock felt so divisive, a feeling which inserted into his feelings for Krasner who really was the factor who know how to circulate his cutting edge talent.

Though some may say that Pollock paints its way with nothing as fascinating as what the angry artist portrayed on canvases and murals.  Harris' less stylized attitude doesn't detract from his refined direction and his love of actors in this character driven drama.  Including many notables from the art world played by Val Kilmer, John Heard, Jeffery Tambor, and by a seductive Jennifer Connelly, Pollock doesn't lose sight of its passion for the creative process and how Krasner steadfastly manifested emotions in ways which open a rich character who Harden makes so real during the ups and downs of a great, but manic artist.

In nearly a handful of stints with her spouse, Madigan here has fun as an imperious, spunky art dowager whose elegant apartment is another place where Pollock can be a bad boy.  And Harris gets polished work from Lisa Rinzler who doesn't abstractly express the bitter conflicts in the straightforward, but frenetic Pollock.


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