2½ stars (out of four)
In 1990 British documentarian Paul Yule made "O. Winston Link: Trains That Passed in the Night," a film about the American photographer who had documented the waning days of steam locomotives in the late 1950s. At the time of the film, Link, 76, was riding high, thanks in part to the sales and publicity efforts of his much younger wife. But not long after began a scandal that eventually sent the wife and her (younger) lover to jail for the theft and attempted sale of Link photographs estimated to have been worth $1 million. That scandal is the apparent subject of Yule's 2005 film, though perhaps it's more accurate to say it merely provides the material for an essay on the difficulty of determining "truth" and the ultimate unknowability of people.
As often is the case in the art world, no one comes off well here, and by the end of the film one is left unsure about the nature of the crime as well as who was perpetrator and who was victim. The artistry of Link's photographs is not focused on at all, having been overwhelmed by the tale of three disagreeable characters caught up in a plot worthy of film noir. Yule embeds a thumbnail biography of Link in the midst of this sordidness, but few are likely to retain much of it, especially when the principals' charges and countercharges are so entertaining. Link's pictures are filled with nostalgia. The present film satisfies mainly a nostalgia for the mud. It will confirm the suspicion that the art world is at times similar to the TV world of Joey Greco ("Cheaters"), Maury Povich
and Jerry Springer
'The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover'
"The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover" opens Friday for a weeklong run at the Gene Siskel
Film Center, 164 N. State St.; 312-846-2600, siskelfilmcenter.org. Running time: 1:19. No MPAA rating.
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