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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

My Sister Maria (review)

Legendary screen goddess Maria Schell died in 2005, but not before her brother, actor and Academy Award-nominated documentarian Maximilian Schell, created this loving, lovely tribute to her life and her work. But this is no effort of mere journalism: this is a demanding, ultimately triumphant film, one that embraces all its subject’s difficulties as well as her accomplishments to create so unified a portrait of a life and a career that it raises the bar on all such similar endeavors to come. This is a feat of mystery and complexity against which all filmed portraits must now be measured. Schell — Maximilian, that is — combines interviews with friends, family, and Maria herself with archival footage and narrative re-creations of events from their life to not just relate the events of his sister’s life but to interpret them… for himself as well as for us. Where fact ends and reverie begins is left as an intellectual exercise to the viewer, and it is assured that fans of Maria as well as those of the documentary format will be drawn to multiple viewings of this beautiful film in an attempt to tease out its truths, or just to revel in its conundrums. Extras are limited to a trailer. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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