More home movie than documentary, The Impassioned Eye sits photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson down to spin a few anecdotes about his art, shortly before his death in 2004. Isabelle Huppert, Arthur Miller, and other artist admirers are on hand to add gravitas to his buoyant reminiscences (not subtitled but translated in dour voiceover). Anyone searching for a bio along with the homage should look elsewhere—for instance, in the volumes of work Cartier-Bresson pages through (some spark a fleet- ing memory, others merit a sleepy nod). Such informality leads to numerous lulls, but when the photographer perks up the results are delightful, as when he spies his portrait of Alexander Calder and gleefully imitates the artist’s gruff rumble, or the sneaking smile that appears when he sees an image of his wife, photographer Martine Franck. Cartier- Bresson admits the modestly Proustian nature of these remembrances but insists that he lives day to day, still searching for “the decisive moment” to capture in his frame and his sketches, until the past sneaks up like a burp, which he demonstrates with gaseous gusto.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 3, 2006