When there’s a thing out there in the universe that is worth doing it stands to reason that it might take a hell of a lot of time to actually get done…
It goes without saying that when director Robert B Weide set out on the journey to recount the life of Kurt Vonnegut that he simply wouldn’t know what it would have become and we take in the new documentary; Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time we see something that is ultimately imperfect but wholly fascinating and honest just like the man himself.
Nearly a lifetime in the making; Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time recounts the extraordinary life of iconic author Kurt Vonnegut and the 25-year friendship with the filmmaker who set out to document it.
While no documentarian worth his salt ever sets out to become a subject in his own film; in Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time this actually ends up working in the narrative’s favour.
Co-Director Robert B Weide set off on his narrative journey as you’d expect as the film begins to lay out the pattern that this man’s life ultimately took and giving a fair amount of reverence to the events earlier in his life that ultimately formed the man he was set to become.
While the film admittedly feels like it skates along the surface of the man’s life (there probably could have been a whole docu-SERIES on the man) it still allows us as audience members to get a little sliver of insight into what made him tick.
As Weide talks with various friends and family members you can’t help but find yourself wondering if had pushed a little deeper into his interpersonal relationships with his family and his friends. Even in the early going of the process you can tell that Weide’s reverence for the man is strong but as the years go on and we see the formation and foundation of these men’s friendships, the film very deftly manages to turn on a dime.
Rather then it being a tale of a rich life that was lived to fullest as we see a younger Vonnegut struggle to find his voice, the more these men become friends the more we are left to wonder if it us who were worthy to bear witness to what the man truly meant, not just to the world but ultimately Weide himself.
Weide and his co-director Don Argott do a solid job of stripping away the artifice that this man had little care for and allows us to understand the universal love this man had from his fans as one of the most beloved and relatable writers of the 20th Century. It allows us to appreciate the charm in the man’s built in level of gloom, which was quite frankly the part of him that readers could truly embrace.
While we’ll grant it’s not a perfect film; Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time is an incredibly interesting one because it manages to straddle the line between analytical reverence and flat out love and appreciation for the words that he put on the page. It genuinely feels like a film worthy of the man himself, someone who was both icon and friend, even when he was being a cranky son of a bitch.