Pollock

Rated: R:
Stars: Ed Harris, Amy Madigan

Pollock is actor Ed Harris’ (he also directed) homage to American abstract painter Jackson Pollock who revolutionized the style in the 1950’s. Jackson Pollock was a tortured soul who suffered for his art or rather caused his own suffering through his most self-destructive behavior of alcoholism and self-doubt.

It begins in Greenwich Village, New York in the late forties where Pollock is a struggling artist whose only real fan seems to be Lee Krasner (Marcia Gay Harden), another struggling artist. But in Pollock Lee sees genius and so begins a decades-long love affair of his art and the man who creates it. She indeed has her hands full because Jackson Pollock is a mentally unstable individual whose symptoms include alcoholism, self-loathing and abusiveness. He is at times so self-centered he can’t even acknowledge Lee’s existence in his life and that’s even after they’ve been living together for a while. But, it is through her connections and efforts that Pollock reaches a measure of fame, even appearing on the cover of Life Magazine. He is renowned for creating “splatter art”, a technique of dribbling paint from a brush onto a canvas that art minded people believe revolutionized abstract art, popular at the time. Looking at it, you may wonder about that. In any case, being the self-destructive personality that he is, Pollock does little more with that fame than pissing it away – engaging in an extramarital affair with a young woman (Jennifer Connelly) and then dying in a car crash, killing one of the two young women who were with him.

Also features: Amy Madigan as Peggy Guggenheim, Jeffrey Tambor as critic Clement Greenberg, Bud Cort as Howard Putzel, John Heard as Tony Smith, Val Kilmer as artist Willem de Kooning.

Lotta says: Pollock’s life as the artist is well defined – we see the major works of art that brought him recognition – but what causes his demons is what’s missing and all you get is one horrible character exhibiting the same horrible behavior over and over again throughout what seems like a very long exercise. There are no shadings to Pollock. He’s a man hard to stomach and frankly so is this movie. Performances are decent; scenes are beautifully directed. The story is what fails us. As for his art – I’d have to say, I’m not a fan.

Reviewed 2/1/01