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William Eggleston in the Real World (Unrated)

Release Date: August 31st, 2005 (NYC-Film Forum) by Palm Pictures.
Directed by Michael Almereyda.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about photographer William Eggleston.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: What makes Eggleston's photos so unique is that they are beautiful snapshots of moments from everyday life. He then edits the photos so that the primary colors are bright like those found in magazine photographs. Almereyda follows him as Eggleston searches from the right moment and angle to snap photographs. Back in 1976, the Museum of Modern Art exhibited his photographs to the public and critics, some of which argue that his photos are pointless and very boring. It is understandable why they might be considered boring at times because of their utter simplicity. However, each photo is rich with vibrant colors that bring out warmth and life, even from objects like a house with a green roof. The main problem that makes this film hard to sit through is the narration by Almereyda, which is very dry and monotonous. It is obvious that Eggleston has a passion for the camera, but, unfortunately, Almereyda does not--at least he doesn't show it. He fails to show how strong of an impact Eggleston has had on the art world of today--a brief lecture at a college is not enough. If only this documentary were as lively and engaging as Eggleston's photos.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Although Almereyda asks profound questions about the meaning of his art, he asks them too late in the documentary. However, he does not get any answers from Eggleston other than different variations of "I don't know"--i.e., "I haven't thought about that before". It is very frustrating to get no answers from such a complex and peculiar artist. Perhaps he just wants to be left alone without anyone analyzing his work--if that's the case, then why make a documentary about him? Perhaps a different director will be able to get inside his head in the future. Unfortunately, Almereyda is unable to bring him to life by getting inside the head of this strange, unique artist. Unlike his lively and warm photos, Eggleston simply comes off as dull, reserved, and cold.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Eggleston never says anything profound or revealing about himself nor his photos.


THE BOTTOM LINE: With no insightful revelations about Eggleston along with poor narration, this documentary fails to make an impact. The photos are lively and interesting to look at, but this film is quite the contrary.


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