William Eggleston in the Real World
Time Out says
At the start of a restrained and informative voiceover, director Michael Almereyda describes his own approach to documentary as ‘silent, patient and watchful’, like photography itself. It’s a fair self-assessment and one that works well for such a modest and reticent subject as Eggleston. Almereyda follows the photographer and his son/assistant, Winston as they carry out a commission from Gus van Sant to document the filmmaker’s hometown of Mayfield, Kentucky. The camera follows as Eggleston takes interest in a shop window or a restaurant sign or a street corner. Later, we watch Eggleston as he spends an evening with his friend, Leigh Haizlip, a charismatic neurotic who sits in her pyjamas and predicts her own death while Eggleston quietly draws next to her, occasionally commenting or admonishing her. We watch an evening conversation (filmed in night-vision) between Eggleston and his wife, during which the photographer briefly plays the piano. We see him quietly collect a major award in New York City.
Quietness defines Eggleston; he doesn’t like to discuss his work. When Almereyda sits him down for an interview he says only that you can love and appreciate art, ‘but you can’t talk about it, it doesn’t make any sense’. He appears most moved, most open when listening to the music that he loves, such as Roy Orbison performing the love song from which this film takes its name. This is a rare and revealing portrait of an artist.