Anton Corbijn: Inside Out
Insubstantial documentary about the photographer and filmmaker
Early in this all-too reverent and ponderous documentary it becomes apparent that the man at its centre is not as fascinating an interview subject as director Klaartje Quirijns believes. Dutch photographer – and more recently film director – Anton Corbijn has a particular knack for creating iconic images of pop culture figures, but if there is any great personal theory beneath his works’ stunning surfaces Quirijns fails to draw it out here. Quirijns seems to be convinced that there is profundity to be found in contemplating Corbijn, but artfully composed shots of Corbijn wandering around photo shoot locations, lying on his couch and looking pensively out of his apartment window, punctuated by his mundane observations on his upbringing and appreciation for music do not make for good cinema. Just as pointless are the interviews with some of Corbijn’s most famous subjects – Bono, Lou Reed, Arcade Fire etc – who all essentially reassert the point that Corbijn really knows how to take a great photo.
There are a few interesting moments: Corbijn’s siblings reflect on their concerns over his workaholic nature, and a strange conversation towards the end of the film has his mother talking about her youthful love for a man who was not Corbijn’s father. In the final minutes we get a rare moment of openness in which Corbijn says, 'I feel as a human being I’m not good enough – not able to connect on a deep level.' It’s an interesting confession in light of his work, which is at once perceptive and intensely superficial. But aside from these pockets of insight there’s just not enough substance here to justify a feature-length documentary.
Showing at Edinburgh International Film Festival Thur 28 Jun and Fri 29 Jun.