Film Within A Film;
Bio Pic Reimagined;
Wild Maverick Tale.
John DeLorean’s story was one filled with drama, intrigue, inspiration and tragedy. The man who revitalized Pontiac and helped define Detroit’s muscle car era, formed his own company intent on pushing his vision for the future of sports cars, dodged a major cocaine trafficking conviction and ultimately fell into financial ruin is tailor-made for a major motion picture about his life. Why it took this long is a bit of a mystery, but here we are. And Framing is about as interested in telling his story in a conventional way as the man himself was in acting in a conventional way. He pushed boundaries and played by his own rules, so it’s fitting that this docu-drama does the same.
It’s a documentary. It’s a bio pic. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at actors getting into their characters for both. It’s a film-within-a-film (within…another film?) and a genuinely fascinating look at a very interesting man and his incredible, wild story full of highs and lows in extremes.
DeLorean’s drive was undeniably admirable. He may have had to use some sketchy tactics to get the powerful GTO engine into a line of Pontiacs, but once he did the results were a smash hit. He became such a hotshot CEO for GM that he wanted to strike out on his own and change the game all over again. After designing the car that would later become a lifelong icon thanks to Back to the Future, he had to look to the United Kingdom to find financing and land for a factory to make his dream a reality. Financial hardship took hold and he found himself entrapped and preyed upon by feds looking to make a sting. Agreeing to bankroll a cocaine trafficking operation to get his hands on money he desperately needs. When he was busted, his defense argued successfully in his favor and he was found not guilty, but by then the damage to his reputation had been done. His fall from grace was public, and Framing does well to shine a light on his life.
The interviews and archival footage are mixed with dramatic recreations of key moments, with DeLorean played by the incomparable Alec Baldwin. Whether studying footage from the makeup chair or face timing his wife to discuss the role and his preparation, Baldwin allows us somewhat into the process of becoming another person. The recreated scenes never come off as cheesy, overdone or distracting, but instead serve as another reminder that this is no ordinary film and DeLorean was no ordinary man.
It may not pack the emotional impact of some of the other great documentaries of recent memory, but it is no less fascinating and distinct. It’s am ambitious project about an ambitious person and deserves to be seen and recognized for its willingness to take risks, just as John DeLorean himself delighted in doing.
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