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Flash Movie Review: Finding Vivian Maier

The day was a dull grey with roaming packs of spewing dark clouds threatening the landscape. I was determined to make the hike since it was the only day I would be in the area. Trekking along the marked trail, I was grateful I wore long pants since the plants with their lush soft edges had a real bite underneath their green leaves. Whenever I was lucky to feel a breeze filter into the dense forest, it was always filled with a dampness that my skin soaked up. The reason I was doing this was because I had read there was an ideal vantage point where I would be able to see the two stepped waterfall in its entirety. If there was going to be rain I was hoping it would wait until I could take a few photographs. As I reached a sharp turn to the left I felt I was walking onto a stage. The dense foliage had split apart like a heavy, green velvet curtain and a single slash of bright sunlight tore a sliver in the sky. Laid out before me was not only the waterfall but appearing like a ghost was a rainbow forming through the mist of water crashing down on the lower rocks. It was such a beautiful site that surprised me more than I imagined. Watching this gem of a documentary gave me the same sense of surprised wonder. Seeking out old photographs for a project, John Maloof was high bidder for an old trunk filled with film negatives. It turned out all of the frames were shot by a Vivian Maier. Though an internet search of her produced nothing, John realized he found something special. This film festival winner was a double surprise for me. First, there were her photographs which were shown throughout the film. Having minored in photography back in college I was not only fascinated with her style, but with the incredible depth in her shots. Her photos had their own personality that seemed to come alive no matter the subject. Secondly, the story about Vivian’s life, which was mildly non-descript, was unreal to the point where I almost found it hard to believe she was the creator of such incredible work. On a personal note, I got an extra charge out of this movie because I had been to some of the same places as Vivian. If you do not have an appreciation for photography, you may not get as excited about this film as I did. However, there still was an amazing story that would still surprise you.


3 1/2 stars

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