Cinetopia Review: Absorbing 'Framing John DeLorean' offers insight to the once powerful tycoon

May 15, 2019

 

Courtesy of IFC/Sundance Selects

Babes, money, and cocaine. Those words would lend itself to a major blockbuster, but they are featured prominently in the insightful documentary “Framing John DeLorean” chronicling the rise and fall of the once powerful tycoon.

 

The irony is many filmmakers have tried and failed to turn DeLorean’s real life escapades into a feature film, and the film cheekily pokes fun at the numerous producers who tried to get their film out to the public first. But it seems a pair of historians on the subject matter have beaten them to the punch.

 

Co-directed by Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce who do a terrific job at laying out the real story, “Framing John DeLorean” documents the Shakespearean-esq tragedy of the moguls questionable business practices and his inevitable arrest and acquittal for drug smuggling and extortion. Separating fact from fiction, the filmmakers dare to push the envelope and the film succeeds, in other words, it shouldn't work - but it does.

 

Half biopic, mostly documentary “Framing John DeLorean” is complete with newsreels, photographs, and testimonials (plus all the undercover FBI sting footage used to charge DeLorean). Those moments are mixed in with scenes featuring Alec Baldwin sporting thick caterpillar eyebrows, a brass chin, and an unique hairpiece to become DeLorean, and in case that’s not enough for you, there are moments when Baldwin offers input and direction on the scene he’s about to shoot.

 

Nonetheless, Baldwin doesn’t dictate much screen time, and though the real beef of the doc is in the nature of the interviews with actual subjects, it’s a nice change of style in the same way “American Animals” incorporated dramatization and non-fiction aspects last year.

 

The film is unbiased at showing how devoted DeLorean was in his early days at General Motors, a brilliant engineer who oversaw the production of the Pontiac and ushering in the rise of the muscle-car era circa 1964. He ended up screwing over his family and the labor force of the UK who were just looking to create jobs at a time when there were none. Joyce and Argott are respectful with the inclusion of DeLorean’s children to testify on his behalf, which - considering all the scrutiny they’ve been under following his heavily publicized cocaine bust - is a real get.

 

“Framing John DeLorean” even includes an interview with “Back to the Future” writer Bob Gale, whose film would all but cement the DeLorean legacy among future generations. Years from now, children will watch “Back to the Future” and think how cool of an automobile it was. Granted, they probably won’t bother to lookup the history behind it, but at least they’ll have Argott and Joyce’s rendition to help set the record straight.

 

Grade: B+

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