Behind the White Glasses
Tue October 10, 2017, 7:30 PM
Behind the White Glasses offers a deep dive into the ground breaking life and career of Lina Wertmuller, the first woman ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for her masterpiece Seven Beauties.
The documentary spans decades, from the unpublished pictures taken in Cinecitta, when she was Federico Fellini’s assistant director on 8 1⁄2, to the places where her most famous films were set, revealing the artistic and human universe of a woman who, with her unfailing irony and taste for the grotesque, has left her mark in all the fields of entertainment in which she worked: cinema, drama, television, music. The journey is accompanied by many exclusive interviews with the artists who witnessed her intense and constantly evolving career. Among them: Giancarlo Giannini, Marina Cicogna, Sophia Loren, Harvey Keitel, Nastassja Kinski, and film critic John Simon. The film features a long series of unreleased videos, images and songs written by Lina Wertmüller. Behind the White Glasses is a personal poetic portrait by Valerio Ruiz, her longtime assistant director and very close collaborator.
The first and last images of Behind the White Glasses are of now 88-year-old director Lina Wertmuller typing furiously on her keyboard, epitomizing her five-decades long career of frantic and garish but intelligent and humane movies, with many unfilmed scripts cluttering up shelves in her office.
Documentary director Valerio Ruiz has made an admiring portrait of an artist whose often impressive work is an outgrowth of her gregarious personality, something which has shown itself throughout her 30-odd films, stuffed to the gills with so much vitality, aliveness and richly rendered real life that some label them too cartoonish or gaudy. Admittedly, that’s been both her great strength and weakness. ...Many talking heads enthusiastically and emphatically talk about Wertmuller, from her greatest collaborator, actor Giancarlo Giannini; her nephew, actor Massimo Wertmuller; and even a still-glamorous Sophia Loren, to her biggest American fans: director Martin Scorsese, actor Harvey Keitel (who made a film with her in Sicily) and critic John Simon, who famously raved about Seven Beauties, one of the rare movies to live up to his exacting standards.
But mainly Ruiz smartly concentrates on Lina herself, who engagingly reminisces about a career that began as Fellini’s assistant on 8-1/2, her brief adventures in America after becoming famous and how her life was shattered by the death of her beloved husband (and set designer for her films) Enrico Job, by all accounts a perfectly lovely man and extraordinary artist. When Wertmuller wordlessly walks through rooms in their vacation house filled with mementos of Job’s brilliant career, it’s an overwhelmingly emotional scene worthy of one of her films.-Kevin Filipski, The Flip Side