Despite eloquent talking heads, chief among them a passionately articulate Tilda Swinton, this uninspired biodoc of iconoclastic English filmmaker Derek Jarman could almost appear (except for the nudity) on as mainstream a venue as A&E’s “Biography.” To add insult to injury, Brit helmer Andy Kimpton-Nye wraps his ultra-conventional account in ghastly stylistic imitations of Jarman’s painterly style, alternating medium-shot DV interview footage with out-of-focus, out-of-synch, Super-8 “poetic” versions of the same scene. Nevertheless, since pic assembles most of Jarman’s closest collaborators, who each engrossingly fill in a piece of his idiosyncratic cinematic process, cable and fests may bite.
Kimpton-Nye cuts between Jarman’s actors, set designer, composer, producer, sister and biographer to limn a chronologically straightforward account of his life and oeuvre. More obscure films like “Sebastiane,” “Angelic Conversation” and “Wittgenstein” are almost as well represented as “Caravaggio” or “The Last of England.” In general, clips are well chosen, if few and far between. Director’s self-indulgent stretches of faux Jarmanesque whimsy and endless inserts of flowers in bloom seem particularly egregious alongside Jarman’s striking compositions and violent, daring imagery.