By Alice King
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:48 AM EDT
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Credit: Pollock: Dennie Todd
type
  • Movie

There’s a refreshingly retro quality to Pollock, a biopic about the abstract expressionist painter who at the height of his fame made the pages of Life, but whose alcoholism staggered his career and led to his death in 1956. Ed Harris’ Jackson Pollock, with his workman’s clothing, hard drinking, and ever present cigarette, is no fey artiste, and the film (which he also directed) is no touchy feely revisionist view of him. This is the neurotic as man’s man: unself-reflective, of few words, more likely to flip a dinner table than admit a problem — and it’s a sort of macho relief that the demons that drive Pollock remain as sketchy to us as they seem to him.

Despite a laughable ”Aha!” moment that links the artist’s breakthrough drip technique to an accidental spill, Pollock portrays art-making for what it is: work (and Harris does a creditable job of putting pigment on canvas) and hustle. Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden, as Pollock’s wife, painter Lee Krasner, turns the potentially thankless role of champion/ nag/ martyr into a subtle portrait of a woman who is never subsumed by her nurturing because it is so clearly her choice. That distinction is perhaps the most modern gesture in the film. After all, as abusive as Pollock was, he did make sure his wife had a studio of her own.

Pollock

type
  • Movie
mpaa
  • R
runtime
  • 122 minutes
director
  • Ed Harris

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