Malcolm Lowry, author of the highly charged, semi-autobiographical Under the Volcano, seems to have had more problems than hot dinners, and this film portrait produced by the National Film Board of Canada puts them all on to the screen with enough clarity to wipe the grin off anyone's face. Here are alcoholic bouts, homosexual traumas, practical catastrophes (a late draft of his painfully written novel went up in smoke), everything culminating in the numbing loss of creativity in 1947, and death through whisky and pills in a Sussex village ten years later. It's a survey which digs deeper and longer than most such jobs, and presents its findings in a complex manner, with strong bursts of visual symbolism (derived from location footage of Lowry landscapes) constantly peppering the conventional interview material (with Lowry's widow, college chums, and knights of the bottle). Topping off the heady brew, passages from Lowry's writings are read by Richard Burton.
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