The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover Directed by Paul Yule First Run, July 26 through August 8, Film Forum
The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover sinks into the sad and sordid tale of an ultimately disastrous romantic triangle between a man, a woman, and a collection of seductively beautiful photographs. Curmudgeonly O. Winston Link, creator of meticulously composed large-format portraits of steam trains surrounded by melancholy Americana, married the fiery Conchita Mendoza in the early 1980s. He was 73; she was 48, and by her own account, more passionately in love with his artwork than him. As business manager, Mendoza hyped Link from relative obscurity to five-figure price tags. By the early '90s, following her affair with one of Link's acquaintances, the pair entered a grisly battle that cut her out completely; Link himself died not long after. Papers painted the eventually jailed Mendoza as conniving femme fatale, complete with stories of her chaining the old man in his darkroom, and brazen attempts to hock stolen prints on eBay. Paul Yule interviews advocates from both sides and summons footage from a deceptively idyllic Link art-doc Yule himself shot in 1991. He reveals a struggle far more complicated, suggesting that the manic entanglement of human relationships can't always conform to the winner-loser narratives that the lawyer-driven court system demands.