when asked who is the most interesting member of the Hemingway family you automatically
reply “Mariel” then you must be either Barbara Kopple or Oprah Winfrey.
Granted, she was terrific in Manhattan
and has dealt with more family heartbreak than anyone should ever have to face. However, Kopple proves her larger than life
grandfather Ernest and tragic sister Margaux are far more compelling figures in
the self-helpy documentary Running from
opens this Friday in New York, via the OWN documentary distribution arm.
members of Hemingway’s family committed suicide. Mariel Hemingway never knew her grandfather,
but she always had an extremely complicated relationship with Margaux, the
middle sister. Probably the film’s
strongest sequences chart Margaux Hemingway’s spectacular rise to fame as a supermodel
and her frustrations with an acting career that never really took off. Her big break was supposed to be Lipstick, in which she had Mariel fittingly
cast as her as her younger sister. When
the film came out, all the good notices went to one sister and the bad notices
went to the other.
if you were not old enough to remember the Studio 54 era, most of the footage
of Margaux as a media sensation will come as a revelation. In contrast, all we get of Papa is the same
old stock footage. There is plenty of
Mariel though. Kopple follows her to
benefits and awareness marches, as part of her ongoing efforts to de-stigmatize
mental illness and support those who have also lost loved ones to suicide. Such dedication is admirable, but it does not
make great cinema.
her well intentioned outreach, Running
includes far too much self-actualizing mumbo jumbo. In fact, Hemingway and her partner Bobby
Williams seem to have some sort of New Age lifestyle joint venture, but it is
impossible to tell what exactly they are selling, even though we hear plenty of
nothing else, Running will convince
viewers under no circumstances would they want to take a rock-climbing road trip
with Hemingway and Williams. It would be better to be the dude in 127 Hours. There is absolutely no reason to force
viewers to sit through all their bickering and bantering, but Kopple does so
the archival scenes of Margaux Hemingway, including footage she shot for a
prospective documentary on her grandfather, are truly compelling. Especially haunting are the interviews she
granted ostensibly to trumpet her successful rehab efforts, but look so clearly
like cries for help in retrospect. Mariel
Hemingway kind of admits she missed the warning signs, but Kopple never pushes
her on this or any other issue. As a
result, the film often has the vibe of an infomercial for group hugs.
There are moments to Kopple’s starry-eyed film,
but it is a disappointment by most cinematic and journalistic standards. Not recommended in theaters, interested
readers should note Running from Crazy
will air on OWN next year, which is where it belongs. Regardless, it opens this Friday (11/1) in
New York at the Angelika Film Center.
Labels: Documentary, Ernest Hemingway, Margaux Hemingway, Mariel Hemingway