When You Look At Me (Film Thoughts: Never Look Away)

never_look_awayI have seen all of the nominees for Best Foreign Film this year, except for one: Germany’s Never Look Away.  I have to admit, there is one thing about it that scares me: its three and a half hour running time. But of course, beauty comes in all forms and sizes, and I am glad I braved it, because that same running time flew by – it certainly deserves a spot on the best foreign films of last year,

The film is about a lot of things and spans decades, but it ultimately is about art – about how it is influential in forming what we are a society, and how it is indispensable. The film, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, is the story of Kurt Barnett, and int he beginning we see him as a young boy at an art exhibit denouncing modern art. The exhibit is used as propaganda, of course, against free thinking, and featured works by Picasso and Mondrian. We see this boy grow up to be an accomplished painter (it is supposed to be based on Gerhard Richter) and we see his art grow and try to adapt with times, only for it to evolve back artistically – and that’s when he gets his biggest acclaim. Never_Look_Away_(film)But there’s more to his life, which is mostly told in melodrama. That made it more interesting for me, on how the woman he falls in love with is connected to his own family. Schilling is fine as Barnett, and he is fine-looking so my interest is never waned. In the end, there’s a lot to take away from this film, and one comes out enriched.

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