Before watching Photographic Memory I was not familiar with Ross McElwee’s work. After just reading the synopsis I just assumed it was a film about the disconnect between father and son and the disconnect between a man and technology. Thinking back on this film I really can’t say if I had a personal experience during it. However, I was envious of his trip to France.
The film sets up as a disconnect between father and son. However the father dominates the film we see the disconnect through his eyes and not his son’s. After musing about what he was doing at his son’s age McElwee decides to go back to France where he spend his early twenties. This is where the film completely trails off for me.
It’s not to be said that this was a bad movie at all, it just angered me. It was a personal film and I can see that it means a great deal to McElwee. That being said stories about fathers and sons like this belong on the Cosby Show. There are things I agree with such as how technology has made my generation into a bunch of sophomoric assholes who are instant experts without putting in any real work to gain the knowledge.
Ross McElwee’s toneless voice just cut right though me.
The more interesting points of this documentary were set in Brittany, France and were about how we see our past. Here we learn about McElwee’s wild days as a photographer and his affair with a French woman. It is interesting to see him track down his past relationships but its all kind of dry with no pathos.
When the view tries to relate these stories we realize that McElwee is hypocritical. Fearing his sons relationship with marijuana, friends, extreme sports and his father has gone far enough he never stops and has an epiphany or draws any serious conclusion. One could say that Ross McElwee has spent so much time behind the camera that he no longer knows how to relate without it. Through out the film I asked myself similar questions about the director/protagonist but it never got to the point.
Unfortunately, the director does not communicate with this audience as well as he could have. Maybe, he was just trying to stay out of the cute area. I don’t know, and that was part of the problem.
Photographic Memory is available on Amazon.com – pick up a copy, watch it, and see if you agree with me
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Overall: 2 stoned teens out of 5
Review by Bro’ B – Ben
We received product to facilitate this review. All opinions are our own.