Developing story | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Developing story 

Ross McElwee's Photographic Memory contrasts a father's youth with his son's

Father takes on son in Photographic Memory

Father takes on son in Photographic Memory

Ross McElwee is a poet of memory and, on a larger scale, history: his classic documentary Sherman's March (1986) began as a chronicle of the Union general's devastating campaign through the Confederate south but eventually grew into a comic confessional about McElwee's romantic misadventures as he was making the film. Photographic Memory operates on a similar trajectory, though in this case McElwee is old enough for both past and present to be drawn from his own life experience. He begins by chronicling his contentious relationship with his rude and rebellious 21-year-old son, Adrian—like his father, a compulsively creative person—but also interpolates his own experiences as a raging 21-year-old visiting the little town of Saint Quay, France, and his return trip in the present day to track down the people he met there. Marked by McElwee's introspective voice-over, the movie is an act of self-reckoning quite unlike anything else in recent documentary filmmaking.

What others are saying

  • Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

    We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

    Are you in?

      Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
      Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
      Reader Radical $15/month →  
      Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

    Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

     One-time donation  → 

    Film Details

    Popular Stories