by Jen Graves
on Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 10:55 AM
Shoot. Don't shoot.
There are many people who really like the new Ai Weiwei documentary Never Sorry, but for me it never rises to the level of the insightful. It is meant to focus on one man as a way of illuminating a larger issue—presumably, state abuse of the individual—but it doesn't really tell me anything I didn't already know about Ai. And, made by a young American, it smacks of look-how-bad-it-is-over-there-ism while at the same time not quite nailing the many-faceted nature of the fact that other political prisoners have suffered far worse abuses than the celebrity artist.
From my review:
The best part of the interesting but never quite insightful Never Sorry (really, never?) are the scenes between 55-year-old Ai and his elderly mother. His mother tells the camera, "I feel very proud because he speaks out for the average citizen." She immediately adds, however, "I wish he would just purely be an artist." Her husband was Ai Qing, the poet and dissident who was interned in labor camps for two decades while Ai Weiwei was growing up. Ai Qing plainly inspired Ai Weiwei's life, but one wonders at their differences as much as their similarities. You almost want to see a documentary from Ai Weiwei's mother's perspective—a movie about the whole family—instead.