“Can I ask you a question?” So opens Adriana López Sanfeliu’s reflective, affectionate portrait of her friend and mentor Elliott Erwitt. A question of a question. A fitting, subtle nod to the photographer’s ironic humour, and famed reticence for “museum talk” or philosophising his photography. The subsequent question, and answer, begins an intimate, often contemplative, hour-long journey into the life of the, at the time of writing, 94-year-old Magnum Photos member – and former president – who continues to work, preferring to let his photography speak. “C’est la photo qui doit faire du bruit.”
Rear Window is a great movie, and taking photographs is the main character’s essential trait. Francois Truffaut, whose book turned director Alfred Hitchcock the man into one-name “Hitch” the myth, praised this screenplay as the best of all. L.B. Jeffries, enacted by Jimmy Stewart, is a foreign correspondent who has traveled the world but now finds himself laid up with a broken leg. Bored even/especially by his socialite-fashion model girlfriend, Lisa Fremont, played by Grace Kelly, he whiles away his days staring across the courtyard at his neighbors going about their business.
Any film photographer who saw an advertisement for Kodachrome likely reacted as I did: “Gee, I really should check out that movie.” If you follow through, you might be disappointed that the story is about shooting slide film to the extent that acclaimed thriller Drive of a few years back was about an automobile race (the confusion the subject of ongoing litigation), but you would be rewarded with a family drama that is not only as much about family as possible but also as much a drama as imaginable.