Alan Pakula: Going for Truth (Matthew Miele, 2019): USA

Reviewed by Mark Wang. Viewed at the AFI Fest 2019.

Alan Pakula: Going for Truth (directed by Matthew Miele) is a documentary about a beloved director Alan Pakula who made films such as All the President’s Men, Klute, and Sophie’s Choice. In the documentary, Miele explores Alan’s relationship with his coworkers, actors, and loved ones who knew him. 

Pakula has an affinity for historical political events and the effects of social change. In the film All The President’s Men, Pakula delves deeply into the journalism industry during the Nixon Administration and the work of journalists in cracking open the Watergate Scandal. The film explores the issue of unchecked powers of the presidency, which is still a big issue today. 

One thing that stood out when talking about Pakula was his intelligence and his willingness to explore deeply the psychological side of characters. Many actresses talked about how good he was in portraying female characters. In the neo-noir crime thriller film Klute, for example, Pakula touched on the issue of domestic abuse through the lens of a police detective who is assisted by a prostitute played by Jane Fonda. Fonda fondly talked about how gentle Pakula was in handling the sensitive topic of domestic cases on women.

Pakula was noted for his empathy and his ability to bring the best performance out of his actors. In Sophie’s Choice, Meryl Streep plays a Polish immigrant in the US who also survived the Holocaust. By Streep’s account, Pakula often kept her in a safe space to explore her character and was very open to allowing his actors to improvise their lines.

Overall, it is a wonderful documentary that explores the life of a film director who knew how to make brilliant films about the lives of characters. It is a must-see for all the wannabe filmmakers out there.


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