A few years ago – under the watchful eye of award-winning director Laura Poitras – artist Nan Goldin battled a clan of pharmaceutical billionaires in a campaign that was tough, stylish and visually stunning. But be warned, the best documentary of the year will leave you feeling emotionally devastated.
Poitras is best known for Citizenfour about whistleblower Edward Snowden who goes head-to-head with the US government. Goldin faces the Sackler family, whose company, Purdue Pharma, engineered and profited from America’s opioid crisis. The enormous wealth they amassed has enabled various branches of the family to spend millions of dollars on the arts, thereby establishing themselves as great supporters of culture.
The fact that, as with Citizenfour, powerful individuals and institutions will go to great lengths to protect their reputations creates tensions. There is much at stake.
But what really makes the movie special is the way Poitras puts Goldin’s story into the mix, putting together details from Goldin’s three-year OxyContin addiction to the tragedies surrounding her older sister, Barbara Goldin, and her two best friends. , David Wojnarowicz and Cookie Mueller. She wears her anger for going on her arm.
The story takes a turning point when we meet Goldin’s family. Lillian and Hyman are so thin they are almost translucent. And when they discuss Barbara they fall apart very quietly. It’s shocking to witness. Both seem to feel the weight of what was lost, which makes the sequence that features the three members of the Sacklers facing the devastation caused by Purdue Pharma all the more jarring.
Even if you know nothing about Goldin’s groundbreaking photos and slideshows, you’ll be mesmerized by her scrawny voice, all-seeing expression, and curly red hair (Alia Shawkat would be a great young Nan if she’s going to be the subject of a biography and please please, Frances McDormand Let him act as Nan’s middle-aged self). In a word, he is a born movie star.
Investigative journalist Patrick Radden Keefe, who has written about the Sacklers for years, admits that when he first met Goldin, he was bossy. The Sacklers themselves certainly underestimated him. There is no such danger now. One of the most enraged old women on the planet, Goldin has shown herself to be a giant predator. This complex film explains who and what he is fighting for.
117 minutes, certificate 18