Few Are Chosen: Our Review of ‘Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - January 20, 2023
Few Are Chosen: Our Review of ‘Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb’

Lizzie Gottlieb’s Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb is obviously about its two titular subjects. But interestingly enough and rightfully so, director Lizzie Gottlieb sometimes shifts her camera from focusing on the two men, including her print editor father. And it pans to the women in their lives. Caro, the mythical chronicler of two of the most important men in the late 20th century, became who he was because of his female publishers. Both men had their own intelligent wives.

In return, interview scenes have these women and some men place deserved platitude on top of platitude. Ones that both Caro and Gottlieb deserve. One of the male interviewees is Ethan Hawke who reads the first few sentences of one of Caro’s masterpieces, The Power Broker. It’s the kind of first paragraph that makes aspiring writers give up writing and keep going at the same time. The interviewees talking about Gottlieb, then, rightfully credit his influence in the publishing world, having the sense of what sells.

And of course, Turn Every Page returns to the literary titans. The film makes its viewers feel the struggles of these men during the younger years. The kind of struggles that anyone has if they choose editing or writing as their profession. This film is interview heavy, but those scenes display those two men’s’ personalities well. Caro has a humility to him, a quality important in a man who needs to know his next steps. Meanwhile, there’s a professorial air to the older Gottlieb.

Pardon the cliché but yes, this film is a labor of love, one that took the younger Gottlieb five years to make. Some viewers may assume that she spent much of the five years convincing both men to share the same room. And the fact that we never see that makes us feel like something’s missing. Their relationship then, feels epistolary, using third parties to speak on their behalf. Although in fairness, there’s something classical about how this relationship ends up on screen.

Another reason Turn Every Page exists is to watch both men work on the fifth volume of Caro’s three volume biography on Lyndon Johnson. It shows us the outline that Caro has on corkboards in his office walls. It also shows pages that Gottlieb cradles on his lap that may or may not be the new pages that Caro just wrote. This is a process film. It exists for literary enthusiasts and keeners to salivate, to celebrate great men but in fairness, they’re both worth celebrating.

Watch Turn Every Page on Carlton Cinema in Toronto.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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