Ian McCluskey's exploration of the legendary "model wife" collaboration between Modernist photo master Edward Weston and moneyed bohemian Charis Wilson is no casual or incidental documentary but a well-crafted display of living history.
Narration is shared among various of the couple's relatives, associates, and biographers, and there's Wilson herself, who at age 90 delivers a lucid, moving stream of emotional memories from the resigned distance of old age. The visuals comprise full-color establishing shots, archival stills, familiar Weston photographs, color interview footage, and dialogue-less location re-enactments shot on 8mm and "antiqued" to simulate period home movies.
Christine Bernsten (Wilson) and Barrett Rudich (Weston) look their parts and give convincingly candid performances. The transitions among these elements is so fluid, you sometimes lose track of what you're looking at — which can be distracting, but probably only if you're determined to deconstruct McCluskey's editing. Whether you view the result as an artful melding of media or a confusing cluster of real and contrived documents, you'll understand and appreciate Wilson's role as the muse to an emerging, if often troubled, artistic talent.
57 MINUTES | MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS: DECEMBER 13 + 20
, Edward Weston