Director Clio Barnard uses what was originally a theatrical technique in her hybrid documentary/drama The Arbor: She interviewed the friends, family, and acquaintances of the late playwright Andrea Dunbar and her troubled daughter Lorraine, then brought in actors to lip-synch to the resulting soundtrack.
The process, shot partly in the working-class housing project that Dunbar both grew up in and chronicled in such plays as The Arbor and Rita Sue and Bob Too, surprisingly results in a singularly filmic experience -- intimate, intense, thoughtful, and at times disturbing. That the lives of these two women contain no shortage of drama -- despite her success, Andrea never moved out of her neighborhood and, after having born three children out of wedlock and lapsed into alcoholism, died at 29 of a brain hemorrhage, while Lorraine eventually became a heroin addict and prostitute before bearing three children herself -- only helps to make The Arbor a stunningly unique look into both the potential and limits of art to redeem a life.
Click on the player to hear my interview with Barnard.
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