Portraiture at its very best, Lives is an artist’s sketchbook concentrated on four well-lived, 50-year-old lives. Veteran filmmaker Alain Cavalier (Therese) seems totally guileless as he introduces his digital camera into an operating theatre, a sculptor’s studio, a butcher’s shop and finally Orson Welles’ French country home. The interviews cut to the heart of their subjects to amaze, inform and hypnotise open-minded viewers. The overall effect of watching this unaffected yet sophisticated documentary is quite uplifting.
Yves Pouliquen, a joking eye surgeon, performs seven successful operations for the camera. The tiny apartment of sculptor Jean-Louis Faure is a treasure trove of art objects. The butcher Michel tells his entire life story while he chops up a side of beef. The camera wanders unhurriedly through a beautiful but decrepit house that once belonged to Orson Welles. Cavalier is given a guided tour by the unseen Françoise Widhoff, Welles’ former assistant, as she charmingly recounts the wasted years she spent with the great director. A plum for film buffs, the piece flies with her droll, ironic narration.
France, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo SR. 89 min.

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