Alice Neel was one of the most acclaimed painters of the 20th century; her body of work features penetrating, unique portraits of Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg. When she passed away, she left behind a mountain of personal material that her grandson, filmmaker Andrew Neel, uses to construct his own complex portrait of his beloved, flawed, and brilliant grandmother.
Why we love it
Truth really is stranger than fiction, and Andrew Neel's revealing documentary ably follows the twists and turns of Alice Neel's fascinating life. From time spent in Cuba to her bohemian early years in Spanish Harlem to her later life balancing the needs of motherhood with the needs of her art, no stone is left unturned in this warts-and-all portrait. Ironically, if not for a few twists of fate, Alice Neel might never have become a known painter at all, and her grandson builds cinematic suspense as he moves from her early years of obscurity to her late-in-life fame. Stories like this are what documentary filmmaking is for.