Dutch music-biz shutterbug and occasional helmer Anton Corbijn (“Control,” “The American”) is asked to lie down on the cinematic equivalent of a shrink’s couch in Low Countries docu “Anton Corbijn: Inside Out.” Moving-picture portrait of the iconic and workaholic photog is insightful when it focuses on his work, though distaff helmer Klaartje Quirijns probes a little too insistently into this contempo Dutch master’s private and solitary persona, adding an unnecessarily voyeuristic edge to an otherwise fascinating nonfiction entry. Fests, fans and art museums will want to get a print, while in major metropolises, niche theatrical is also a possibility.
Scribe-helmer Quirijns (“The Dictator Hunter”) followed Corbijn for an extended period that included the shoot of Corbijn’s 2010 George Clooney starrer “The American” and photographic work with music luminaries including Metallica, Lou Reed, Arcade Fire and Corbijn regulars Depeche Mode and U2, for whom he has shot many album covers and musicvids over the years.
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B-roll-type material of Corbijn’s shoots and the obligatory soundbites from his famous subjects — early champion Bono from U2 seems especially perceptive — are part of the mix, but the pic’s most interesting elements are Corbijn’s own discussions of his work with Quirijns, behind her camera, and with some of the subjects who were in front of his own.
Ruminations on composition, with regard to the Metallica/Lou Reed pictures for their “Lulu” project and some shots of “The American,” are especially observant, uncovering something of the mystery behind Corbijn’s particular eye and the raw power of much of his work.
Corbijn offhandedly remarks that both films he’s directed are about loners, and how he can be one, too, though he is quick to point out that he doesn’t completely aspire to that. Still, the comments seem to have inspired Quirijns to explore loneliness in Corbijn’s private life in more depth. A candid and well-prepared interview about his youth and relationships with his parents and siblings, filmed in a church, is enlightening and ends with a beautifully held shot after he’s talked about his complicated relationship with his late father, a minister who handed down his name to his son.
But the helmer doesn’t leave it at that, and a forced conversation about love, feelings and familial pride with Corbijn’s aged, occasionally confused mother seems more prodded by Quirijns’ desire to paint a complete psychological portrait of her subject than by Corbijn’s own willingness to confront such issues. An improvised conversation between the docu director and her subject, in the woods, sees Corbijn walk away after a confession he was perhaps not willing to make, leaving not only him but auds feeling slightly uncomfortable.
Editor Boris Gerrets’ work is occasionally too on-the-nose, such as when Corbijn’s sister complains about his insane schedule only to cut to Corbijn saying he’s forced to take some time off. But the pic also finds moments of grace in well-judged crosscuts between the photog and his work. A sequence of Corbijn on a couch at home, in silence after having admitted he’s “not unhappy most of the time,” alternates with melancholy shots of Sam Riley’s protag from “Control,” offering further support for the notion, first expressed by Bono, that Corbijn always uses his images of others to create an image of himself.
Camerawork is TV-ready, with some of the interviews apparently shot in available light only, which occasionally creates problems, such as in an interview segment shot on a moving train; quality of the Depeche Mode musicvids is also problematic. Musical extracts include songs from people Corbijn’s portrayed, as well as work by Gavin Friday.