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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Pollock’: Genius at Work of Just Drizzle?

?Pollock?Sony Pictures ClassicsProduced by Fred BernerScreenplay by Barbara TurnerBased on the book Jackson Pollock: An American SagaDirected by Ed HarrisStarring Ed Harris, Marcia Gay Harden, Amy Madigan, Jennifer Connelly3 reels

Ed Harris takes his first stab as a director in ?Pollock,? a film covering 15 years in the life of Jackson Pollock, the abstract expressionist painter.

Harris also handles the leading role, which he does with great skill. One moment he is wailing in pain and rage, the next blissfully engaged with painting.

Like many great artists, Pollock was troubled by feelings of depression, and often sought the bottle to ease himself from reality. The film pays great attention to this aspect of his life, which is important because it leads to his early demise in an auto accident.

The story?s structure follows Pollock?s rise in popularity and his rocky marriage to fellow artist Lee Krasner. When the title character is first introduced, he is already depicted as melancholy and disturbed. Krasner sees his talent from the beginning and the two form an immediate bond.

She becomes an important force in Pollock?s life, constantly encouraging his career while setting her own on hold. This she does with complete selflessness.

Pollock?s earlier work was much like that of Picasso or Miro; it wasn?t until his later painting that he made a name for himself. He adopted a rather unusual technique at the time?he would drizzle and/or splatter pain onto the canvas. It was after this experimentation that Life Magazine did a full story on his work and he reached the height of his career.

Even at this high point, Pollock was consumed with negative feelings and melancholia. His best work was produced during a stint with sobriety, which, sadly, only lasted a few years. His marriage to Lee began to crumble as his drinking became more and more excessive and his extramarital affairs more dominant.

The mood in this film perfectly echoes the tormented mind of the painter. At times it is still and quiet and others brash and violent. The lighting too is worth noting. A lot of shadows and silhouettes are used to further articulate the moodiness of the character. The shadows add a rich, beautiful quality to the film.

?Pollock? has been receiving a bit of Oscar buzz and it is easy to see why. Harris gives one of the greatest performances of his career, and his directorial debut is equally impressive. His style is straightforward and not fussy. And his portrayal of Pollock is convincing and sympathetic.

Marcia Gay Harden as Lee Krasner is equally noteworthy. At times, she is as brash as Pollock and at others contemplative and controlled. The love Krasner had for Pollock is evident in the way her character in the film is always there to guide him and help him stand on his own two feet when he (literally) cannot.

One of the draw backs of the film is the undefined rational that drives Pollock?s neurosis. It is never explained why he is the way he is?what triggers this rage and depression within him. This is not necessarily a shortcoming on Harris? part, or on the screenplay?s or novel?s. Perhaps it was just never known.

And in the end, his mysterious nature makes the artist all the more interesting.

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