Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman lends his signature observational style to this eye-opening examination of the institutions and inhabitants of one small Midwestern town.
From 1967’s groundbreaking TITICUT FOLLIES to last year’s monumental EX LIBRIS: THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, prolific filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has built up one of the most vital and original bodies of work in American cinema. With his latest, Wiseman employs his trademark unobtrusive style in order to observe the goings-on of Monrovia, Indiana, a rural town with just over 1,000 inhabitants. In a series of intimate, leisurely-paced sequences, Wiseman captures Monrovians as they commiserate about health problems over coffee at a local diner, hawk their wares at a flea market, and gather at the cemetery to bury a family’s beloved matriarch. Wiseman devotes a significant amount of time to a series of surprisingly contentious city planning meetings, in which a discussion about fire hydrant placement feels rife with drama and subtext. These scenes add up to a collaged portrait that feels both sweeping and purposefully non-authoritative, leaving it to viewers to find subtle cross-associations and moments of quiet pathos within the quotidian detail. At a time when the image of small-town America is invoked and manipulated by both ends of the political spectrum, Wiseman’s un-sentimental, non-judgmental approach feels like a welcome tonic.
In Competition: Best Documentary Feature
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