Film

Doc Fixates on but Doesn’t Examine Director Nicolas Winding Refn

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Despite some consummately intimate footage, behind-the-scenes doc My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn proves frustrating because writer-director Liv Corfixen works harder to coddle Drive director Refn, her husband and subject, than she does to get inside his head.

While the title of Corfixen’s hour-long film suggests marital strife, she lovingly boosts her husband by applauding his creative struggles during the filming of his beguiling artsploitation gem Only God Forgives. Corfixen’s fly-on-the-wall style is compelling, but it finds her too often circumspect, as when Refn asks Corfixen if she thinks Only God Forgives is better than Drive.

She pauses before replying, “[Only God Forgives] isn’t as commercial. Don’t you realize that?” Corfixen focuses myopically on Refn’s violent mood swings, and never examines what might be the causes. Scenes where he melts down are the foundation for her uncritical progress narrative: Corfixen shows Refn fixating on bad preliminary reviews from the Cannes Film Festival, and the scene concludes, tellingly, with Refn describing a reassuring post-review phone call he had with Alejandro Jodorowsky, Refn’s idol and personal friend.

Corfixen celebrates her husband for being open in his work, but never shows us how his real-life concerns translate into commendable creative risk-taking.