In this unprecedented look at Ai Weiwei, Klayman’s camera captures his forthrightness and unequivocal stance. She gives a larger picture of the artist as an individual, a symbol of China’s oppression, and a powerful voice against a country that still denies its citizens many basic freedoms.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
The way Wei (sorry) is presented reaches rapidly a point of questionable dichotomy. He’s truly devoted to the cultural and political cause but looks naïve and jelly when asked about his son; he doesn’t recognize his father artistic influence but clearly had a weight on him; and last, the american early years show his narcissistic pursuit of egotism supremacy.
The movie turns Weiwei's very poignant struggle into a hollow depiction that looks much more interested in making a western propaganda. It works only with weiwei's rebel-artist-political-activist persona, the one we already know, the one from the TV interviews... it makes me wonder if there ever was an interest on going passed this superficial level of depiction, which can be so useful.
There are a few glimpses of his personal life that make it worth watching, but there isn't much here that people who have followed Ai in the media haven't seen already. If you're not familiar with his work, it's a good place to start.
Now I wouldn't call Ai Weiwei a charlatan, but watching this movie with someone who would prompted me to view the man, his work, and this film more cynically than I would have otherwise. Does Ai promote himself more than his art? Shouldn't the film tell us whether there have been any reconstruction efforts in the wake of the Sichuan earthquake and Weiwei's subsequent criticism of the collapsed "tofu-dregs" schools?