Crumb (1994)

Genres - Culture & Society, Visual Arts  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Graphic & Applied Arts, Interpersonal Relationships  |   Release Date - Apr 21, 1995 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Tom Wiener

Filmmaker Terry Zwigoff was able to make Crumb because of his friendship with the subject, but the film is definitely not hagiography. Because much of the artist's work is so personal, any study of Robert Crumb must take into account his prickly and decidedly randy personality. Zwigoff also had a great sense of timing, catching Crumb in a bit of a mid-life crisis, as he decamps from his longtime home in California to the south of France. The energy of the 1960s which fueled some of Crumb's most celebrated art has long ago dissipated, and when Crumb convincingly disavows being identified with that tumultuous time (he hates rock music, preferring to listen to his collection of blues music on original 78 rpm vinyl), you sense that he's a man who has been out of step all his life. Rather than merely depict the symptoms of Crumb's worried mind, Zwigoff includes enormously effective interview material with two of Robert's brothers (one of whom died after film was completed). Few filmmakers are allowed that kind of privileged look into their subjects' upbringing, and the brothers' recollections of their childhood and ruminations on their blighted lives suggest that art provided Robert with a reasonably effective way of dealing with past traumas.