Joan. Such a towering figure to me. I fervently awaited this documentary by her always-charming guttersnipe of a nephew. Has any writer ever fitted such masterful and clean elucidation of personal experience within the context of dwarfing and at-times-truly-entropic sociocultural sea-change(s)? She was crying out for this sort of treatment. That she was still around to participate (so expressively!) is a blessing.
In lieu of answering, she remains silent, drawing circles in the air, looking apparently lost while only waiting for the exact word to come as once she was waiting for the right tide to swim. Absorbed by such a steady presence, I didn’t pay much attention to the doc itself but I know it contains a nice bookshelf, Harrison Ford, the carpenter and lovely anedoctes on reluctant manuscripts being put in the freezer.
the largest disservice to this film is its subject; not because she is not fascinating, or erudite, or magnanimous with her internal life-- quite the opposite. joan didion has written so remarkably and so unwaveringly about her self that to take this scope towards her seems almost unnecessary.
After watching this, death becomes, if ever more slightly, real and closer than we'd like to think. Because, of course, nobody has any desire to imagine what the loneliness of the living looks like: two bony, shriveled hands reluctantly cutting a sandwich.('This happened.That may seem a while ago but it won't when it happens to you. And it will happen to you. The details will be different but it will happen to you.')
2.5* I'm happy Dunne chose to share what could have been a private project for his aunt with contributions from all her famous friends. Selfishly, I find it unfair that he had full access to such an incredible figure and came back with "this happened so I wrote this." All the moments that move - Didion looking at a pictures with V. Redgave, making a sandwich, searching for language - seem accidental or all Joan.
I love Joan Didion more than anything, but this feels more like a play by play of her career than anything new or insightful. That being said, a play by play of Didion’s career is still something I love.