Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold
RELEASE DATE: October 27 DIRECTOR: Griffin Dunne CAST: Documentary
Joan Didion is a brilliant writer who also benefited from very good timing – she started writing this very specific thing, her “essays of social criticism,” just when it felt like the country was really falling apart, and thus there was much for her to say. The Center Will Not Hold is a biographical documentary (directed by her nephew, actor/producer/director Dunne) that achieves the tricky balancing act of profiling not only the person – which is easy – but the work, and it influence, which is quite a bit harder. Dunne goes book by book, touchstone by touchstone, as she transitions from essays to novels to screenplays to politics, all of it tough and smart and challenging, (Great, little moment: Hilton Als remembering the mere anticipation of waiting for her to write about the Central Park jogger case.) Dunne’s style is deceptively breezy – he finesses you with the quotable prose and movie-star name-drops, while sneaking in an emotional undercurrent that’s ultimately clobbering – and if there’s any real complaint, it’s that the film could sustain a much longer running time than its slender 94 Minutes. When was the last time you heard that about a movie?