Being a Human Person (2020) - 10/10
Updated: Apr 25
They say you should never meet your hero’s. I’m not exactly meeting Roy Andersson in watching this documentary of course, but there’s such mystery in the Swedish auteurs work, that having never before looked at any content other than the films, I’m a little concerned about lifting the veil. Coming to the end of his career, at 77, this feels like the best time to make and enjoy a film about one of my favourite directors though. First of all, it’s got to have that sense of detail, of meticulous artistry. Fred Scott, the director here thankfully understands this perfectly. Giving us as much an insightful walk through Andersson’s life as an homage to his work. Much of the focus is on the making of what’s planned to be Andersson’s final film ‘About Endlessness’. A real behind the scenes look at how this magnificent film was made, the good side... and the bad. It’s astonishing to see that mix of vulnerability shown on screen, with the masterful control behind it. Each scene built in the townhouse studio in which Andersson lives and works. I really can’t convey how incredible these sets are, but I’d go so far as to say they’re some of the best in cinema and as a collection, probably the best in cinematic history. Whether you like Andersson’s work or not, for the love of god watch this. I assure you you’ll jaw will be on the floor and a huge smile on your face. The same smile we get from Andersson behind the camera as he sees his visions come to life. That’s what his films are about, Life. People and their lives. It’s a broad scope, but the way he works, allows him the time and patience to indulge and have control without any interference. Truly inspiring. At same time, this bubble creates its own challenges. For all Andersson’s brilliance. It’s not a solo endeavour. There’s an equally amazing team behind him. Pernilla Sandström, Anders Hellström, Frida Ekström Elmstrand to name the few that share the screen here. These are the people that hold production together when Andersson loses his way. Through a lack of confidence, too much drinking and perhaps in terrifying sadness that this will soon all be over. There is a sadness in his work though. Sometimes masked with humour, but still ever present and the picture he paints here gives some understanding to why that may be. A reaction to early success in the 70s. A stubbornness to kick back at expectation. The origin of his own space at Stockholm’s Studio 24. It’s an intimate look at Andersson and the world he’s created for himself. Not least in regard to his drinking, that sees him struggle with rehab and possibly alienating his team. It creates a volatile dynamic on set that’s sometimes painful to watch. Everyone is so damn nice, the work so damn good, it feels wrong for it to be anything but damn good fun! Sets are stressful places though and what’s captured is so emotionally visceral. Maybe this is just part of the story, of Andersson’s story... it really is fascinating. It’s probably better if you’re familiar with Andersson’s work, but at the same time, maybe this would be an interesting place to start. Andersson at an even more reflecting time in his life. So unsure of himself and the work. A surprisingly emotional ride. It’s clear Andersson is driven by the work in the same way he drives it. The two are one and the same. To retire... unthinkable. But at the very least “We should be grateful that art exists”. I needn’t have been nervous going in. If I loved Roy before. I adore him now.