“Pollock” is directed by Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominated actor Ed Harris, who makes his directorial debut, stars in the title role, and serves as a producer. The film is a look back into the life of an extraordinary man, a man who has fittingly been called “an artist dedicated to concealment, a celebrity who nobody knew.” Marcia Gay Harden (“Meet Joe Black,” “Miller’s Crossing”) plays Lee Krasner, Pollock’s wife, whose efforts at promoting her husband’s career often stymied her own growth as an artist.
Rounding out the “Pollock” cast is a company of prestigious actors who characterize the friends, lovers, family, competitors, and critics that surrounded Jackson Pollock and helped shape his life and career. Jeffrey Tambor is Clement Greenberg, the art critic and personal friend, whose opinions helped propel Pollock’s career and who once told the artist, as he struggled to come to terms with his increasing fame, “I’ll let you know if you go astray.” Robert Knott plays Sande Pollock, one of Jackson’s brothers, who often came to his aid when his dark moods threatened to destroy him. Amy Madigan portrays the bold and eccentric art collector Peggy Guggenheim, whose opinions could either catapult or crush careers. (It was Guggenheim who seduced the painter into creating the mural that would become a masterpiece, for her luxury New York apartment.) Bud Cort plays Howard Putzel, Peggy Guggenheim’s “eyes” when she first began showing the new American art. John Heard plays Tony Smith, an architect and a sculptor, and Pollock’s trusted friend.
Unfortunately, this film is as abstract as Pollock’s artwork. I have always been fond of Ed Harris as an actor, and I think he does a commendable job in his portrayal of Jackson Pollock, the misunderstood starving artist. Since the movie is based on a true story spanning a couple of decades of a pretty miserable life, it forces the audience to view snippets of a life that Pollock himself didn’t seem to enjoy. At times the movie is slow and drawn out, while at other times we see segments that don’t tell us anything at all about the characters or story. Considering Hollywood’s penchant for showering “Artsy” films with praise and accolade, and the two Oscar nominations for Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden, there will be enough buzz for AandE to produce a biography on Pollock’s life. I would recommend you wait and see that instead.