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Review - Framing John DeLorean

By midlandsmovies, Jul 30 2019 04:05PM



Framing John DeLorean (2019) Dir. Don Argott & Sheena M. Joyce


As a huge fan of Back to the Future, I’ve always dreamed of driving the time machine car with its gull-winged doors and silver UFO-appearance – which fan hasn’t I guess? With my limited knowledge of its designer John DeLorean, the documentary actually avoids too much focus on its iconic place in the timeless 80s cinema classic and instead wisely focuses on the mysterious engineer of the auto industry behind the vehicle.


Funnily enough though, Back to the Future’s writer Bob Gale is one of the first people interviewed. And he questions why Hollywood hasn’t used DeLorean’s story for a biopic given his life full of women, cars, business and later on, criminal goings-on. The documentary follows DeLorean’s story from his huge success at General Motors in the 60s and 70s using standard talking head interviews, archive footage and contemporary opinions from DeLorean’s children.


However, and rather strangely, the film also has dramatic recreations of a number of important moments in his life starring Alec Baldwin as the auto expert. Again, it’s a little bizarre as we see are also shown the behind-the-scenes preparations for these sequences. Baldwin imparts his thoughts on the man as he sits in the make-up chair having massive fake eyebrows attached to look more like DeLorean.


The intention I guess seems to be an attempt to delve into DeLorean’s motivations and what “made him tick”. Although not entirely successful, or needed at all, it does add a creative flavour to the standard documentary format which was refreshing.


DeLorean doesn’t make his dream easy as he sets up a factory in Northern Ireland (during the violent Troubles no less) but his goal to be an independent car manufacturer is welcomed in a country torn apart by bombs and guns. Offering a chance of employment, the Catholic/Protestant production line workers find a place of safety and solidarity and are visibly upset when the it closes.


Unfortunately, his lack of genuine manufacturing experience and the dearth of funding takes its toll. And DeLorean is suddenly involved in two court cases - one involving a drug deal and another a case of embezzlement. But this is an excellent documentary with a unique, if a bit confused, splash of drama edited into it, with the film exploring the multifaceted aspects of his extraordinary life.


And it ends with his disappointed children acknowledging that if Back to the Future had been released just months earlier, the subsequent interest in the car may have saved the company. But like the mistakes he made himself you can’t go back in time, not even in a DeLorean.


★★★★


Michael Sales


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