Portraiture at its very best, “Lives” is an artist’s sketchbook concentrated on four well-lived, 60-year-old lives. Filmmaker Alain Cavalier (“Therese”) seems totally guileless as he introduces his digital camera into an operating theater, a sculptor’s studio, a butcher shop and finally Orson Welles’ French country home. The interviews cut to the heart of their subjects to amaze, inform, and hypnotize open-minded viewers. Overall effect of watching this unaffected yet sophisticated docu is quite uplifting. Superb programming for pubcasters, it should enjoy a long festival life.
Yves Pouliquen, a joking eye surgeon, performs seven successful operations for the camera. The tiny apartment of sculptor Jean-Louis Faure is a treasure trove of art objects. The butcher Michel tells his entire life story while he chops up a side of beef. The camera wanders unhurriedly through a beautiful but decrepit house that once belonging to Welles. Cavalier is given a guided tour by the unseen Francoise Widhoff, Welles’ former assistant, as she charmingly recounts the wasted years she spent with the great director. A plum for film buffs, the piece flies with her droll, ironic narration.