Thursday, 14 August 2014

Finding Vivian Maier - review

In the Sixties there was a film called Blow Up where a photographer played by David Hemmings believes he has captured a crime on camera and sets out to solve it.

Finding Vivian Maier is a documentary that features a similar mystery at heart but it isn't trying to solve a crime captured in a photograph but one man's search to discover who took a photograph.

John Maloof bought a box of negatives from an auction in Chicago and discovered a series of amazing photographs from a woman called Vivian Maier.

The only problem was that neither John nor anyone on google had seemed to heard of this photographer. Maloof sets out to find out who she was and why she hadn't become a famous artist.

He discovers she had died shortly before he found the negatives and Maier worked for most of her life as a nanny and took thousands of photos whenever she could thanks to a camera she seemed to permanently keep round her neck.

Interviewing the people she worked for and looked after, Maloof begins to piece together the puzzle of who Vivian Maier was whilst simultaneously building an archive of her photographs and showcasing her work around the world.

Maier would in death find the fame she never had in life but it is clear that it is not something she would have necessarily wanted or enjoyed.

What she did enjoy however, and predating the current camera phone trend by 50/60 years, was taking "selfies". So many in fact, that she could have even coined the term.

Unlike the majority of her photos, Vivian Maier's background and personality was certainly not black and white but this film does its best to add some colour and shade to this unique character.

4 stars

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