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New Release Review (VOD) - THEY'LL LOVE ME WHEN I'M DEAD

THEY'LL LOVE ME WHEN I'M DEAD review
Documentary follows the process of bringing Orson Welles' The Other Side of the Wind to the screen.


Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Morgan Neville

THEY'LL LOVE ME WHEN I'M DEAD poster


42 years after shooting wrapped on Orson Welles' notoriously troubled production, The Other Side of the Wind, the film has finally been assembled and released to the world through the medium of Netflix. Arriving simultaneously is Morgan Neville's feature length documentary, They'll Love Me When I'm Dead, which chronicles the troubled journey of The Other Side to the screen. It's sort of the streaming era equivalent of a DVD's bonus feature, and it's a welcome companion to Welles' film.

THEY'LL LOVE ME WHEN I'M DEAD review

Neville takes his doc's title from a quote attributed to Welles, but which the filmmaker denied having ever made. It's a play of course on the old notion that artists only ever truly receive the accolades they deserve when they shuffle off this mortal coil. It doesn't quite apply to Welles though. He was appreciated fully by cinephiles throughout his life; the trouble was the people with the resources to fund his career saw him as a money pit. As such, much of They'll Love Me follows Welles' struggle to rustle up the necessary funds to complete his picture, with various European and Middle Eastern backers delivering and failing on various financial promises, including the Shah of Iran, whose dethroning led to the film being locked away in a Paris vault for four decades.

Actor Alan Cumming provides an enthusiastic narration, appearing both on and offscreen, while Neville rounds up as many of the surviving players of this Hollywood drama as he can find. The frustrating thing is that he fails to give anyone onscreen credits, assuming that the audience can identify the various contributors. That's all well and good for those of us who are familiar with the faces and voices of 1970s American filmmaking, but a frequent argument made in Netflix's defence is that it opens movies to a young audience that might not otherwise indulge them, so it would have been helpful for those younger viewers starting out on their own cinematic journeys.

THEY'LL LOVE ME WHEN I'M DEAD review

The last few years have seen a raft of Welles related documentaries, and most of them have simply rehashed old anecdotes and footage, failing to justify their existence in a world where the comprehensive two part 1982 BBC doc The Orson Welles Story exists. It's refreshing then to find They'll Love Me packed with footage of Welles that has flown under the radar. Highlights include a clip of Welles discussing his plan to capture "accidents" in the making of The Other Side, and a touching piece of footage taken by director Henry Jaglom on the set of his 1987 film Someone to Love, which features Welles famous booming laugh.

While a tribute to Welles' talent and spirit, Neville's film isn't simply a hagiography, and isn't afraid to occasionally paint him as a narcissist, with longtime friend Peter Bogdanovich close to tears as he relates the heartbreaking story of how Welles cruelly ended his friendship with his young protégé.

THEY'LL LOVE ME WHEN I'M DEAD review

While Neville's doc is quite comprehensive on the making of The Other Side, it's a surprise to find that it doesn't cover the restoration process, which Welles fans would find equally fascinating. Netflix have released a couple of short featurettes on the process, which you can find on YouTube, but I feel Neville has missed a trick by not detailing the mammoth task in his otherwise largely satisfying documentary.

They'll Love Me When I'm Dead is on Netflix now.


the other side of the wind review

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