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A Fuller Life – Movie Review

Fuller

A Fuller Life – Movie Review by C MacNamra
Director/Prdoucer: Samantha Fuller
Starring: Samuel Fuller, Mark Hamill, James Franco, Jennifer Beals, Bill Duke, James Toback

The life and work of Sam Fuller is so expansive as to be almost apocryphal. From the newspaper stalls of New York corner boys, to the morgues and precincts of crime journalism at the age of 17, to the beaches of Normandy and the doors of Falkenau concentration camp, before returning to a post-war world of Hollywood. Fuller’s life has, in his own words, intersected with most of the previous centuries’ major milestones.

He is infatuated with the ideals of America, whilst coming face to face with its darkest realities; Klu Klux Clan rallies, State executions, and the paranoid hysteria of the Red Scare. Directed by his daughter, Samantha Fuller, the film is essentially a screen adaptation of Fuller’s own autobiography A Third Face. A passionate, yet clumsy, tribute reading to the man from some the actors and directors of his career, the narrative is split into twelve ‘chapters.’ Rare footage of Falkenau concentration camps filmed by Fuller himself are blended with a rotating palette of stock footage, archive material and Fuller’s own illustrations.

This straight laced documentary style is interrupted with meandering pan shots of the various narrators as they read their respective chapters, with performances that range from stolid news reporter to plain silly bordering on disrespectful. Careful consideration is given to pause the narrative and allow the readers to puff at novelty sized cigars.

It is ironic that even with Fuller’s iconic life, the biographical film can still suffer from melodrama.
Part-eulogy, part-documentary, part-celebratory, the film is never sure what it is and aside from Fuller’s direct contributions falls flat in a tangle of conflicting messages and styles.

 

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