It’s not easy to say a lot in a film. When numerous themes and concepts compete for our attention, it all too easy to descend into an episodic or confused mish-mash. Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of The World According to Ion B. is how much information is conveyed, seemingly effortlessly, in a one hour documentary.
Much of this richness is due to one Ion Barladeanu, a 63 year-old homeless man whose long festering career as a collage artist is about to drag him (much to his own bemusement) into semi-respectable society. Ion B. is a self-proclaimed rascal who would be an ideal fictional character, were he not real. His closest narrative film counterpart may be the title character in Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala.
Alexander Nanau’s 2009 film expertly balances the details of Ion B.’s life of the dumpster with a look at his art, collected from thrown out magazines. Is collage art really art? I think that case is well made here. Especially when it gets political and we see the effects of Communist tyranny on an unconventional soul. Add to that a family reunion, a gallery opening and the quest to find a homeless man a home and there’s a lot of story here.
The greatest pleasure of this film, however, remains just watching Ion B. be Ion B.