Watch Photographic Memory
- 1 hr 24 min
Photographic Memory is a documentary-style film directed and co-produced by Ross McElwee, who also appears prominently in the film. The film explores themes of memory, nostalgia, and parenthood as Ross travels back to France, where he spent a formative year as a young man, and reconnects with old friends and romantic partners. The film begins with Ross in his mid-50s, married with a teenage son and a successful career as a filmmaker. He is feeling increasingly disconnected from his family and his work, and decides to take a trip to France to revisit places from his youth and try to recapture some of the feelings he had during that time.
Along the way, Ross reflects on his relationships, particularly with his father, who died when Ross was a young man. Ross narrates the film, often in an introspective and poetic style, and includes clips from his own previous films, giving a sense of continuity between his past and present work.
One of the central figures in the film is Ross's own son, Adrian, who accompanies him on parts of the trip. Adrian, who is in his mid-20s, is going through his own period of transition and uncertainty, and Ross uses their conversations as a way to reflect on his own choices and experiences as a young adult.
The film is divided into several distinct parts, each of which explores a different aspect of Ross's return to France. In one section, he reunites with a former lover who is still living in the same apartment he stayed in 30 years earlier. In another, he visits a small town where he worked as a janitor in a school, and reconnects with a former colleague who is now the principal.
Throughout the film, Ross also grapples with the challenge of capturing the essence of his memories on film. He is frustrated by the limitations of the camera and the difficulty of conveying the complex emotions and sensations that are tied up with his memories. The film takes on an almost meta-quality as it becomes a meditation on the nature of filmmaking itself, and the ways in which images and sounds can evoke memories and emotions that are hard to put into words.
Despite the film's heavy themes, there are moments of levity and humor, particularly in the interactions between Ross and Adrian. Their conversations are sometimes awkward or strained, but there is an obvious affection and respect between them that is heartwarming to watch.
Overall, Photographic Memory is a thoughtful and introspective film that will resonate with anyone who has ever grappled with the challenges of memory and nostalgia. Ross McElwee's signature style of blending personal reflection with documentary footage creates a powerful and intimate portrait of one man's journey to reconnect with his past and make sense of his present.
Photographic Memory is a 2012 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 24 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9 and a MetaScore of 79.