If you’re the kind of person, like me, who’s looking forward to the Hirshhorn’s big Ai Wei Wei exhibit this October, you’ll love Never Sorry, a smart new documentary about the artist/activist.
First-time American director Alison Klayman does a masterful job illuminating Ai’s many facets — brilliant social critic, media manipulator, patriot and loving father. I walked away with a much better understanding of where the artist comes from. Sequences on his family’s experience during the Cultural Revolution and his decade in New York were particularly instructive.
To get all the allusions Klayman includes in the film, it helps to know something of Chinese culture, history and language. China hands will appreciate New Yorker correspondent Evan Osnos’s insights into Ai’s cat-and-mouse game with Communist officials. But even if you’re a China novice, the film offers a lot to chew on. It takes on big questions about the individual’s role in society, and should be required viewing for anyone seeing Ai’s installations.
On a side note: I had the day off today, so I saw the 3:30 show at Washington’s E Street Theatre. There’s a funny thing about seeing mid-afternoon movies: Sometimes you think you see ghosts from the past.