The ArborFeature Film |
An inventive lip-synched pseudo-documentary about a British playwright's tragic legacy.
In The Arbor, director Clio Barnard explores the line between narrative and documentary as she examines the life and legacy of late English playwright Andrea Dunbar. After conducting extensive interviews with Dunbar's family and friends, Barnard hired actors to lip-synch the recorded material in crafted scenes that hint at the current lives of those portrayed. A troubled alcoholic, Dunbar hailed from a slum in Bradford, England, an area ravaged by the demise of the textile industry. Interspersing scenes from Dunbar's semi-autobiographical play (also called The Arbor) performed on location in Bradford, Barnard focuses on the writer's family, specifically her eldest daughter, Lorraine (Manjinder Virk). Struggling with her half-Pakistani cultural identity and constantly fighting for her distracted mother's attention, Lorraine quickly follows in her mother's addictive footsteps, adding crack cocaine and heroin to the mix while still in her teens. The Arbor is a tragic look at the vicious and practically inescapable cycle of poverty, and Barnard's unique lip-synching technique improbably adds a sense of intimacy to the film, while acknowledging and embracing the fact that even a true story is a bit contrived when being retold. The disjointed pacing and sometimes-obvious technical conceit can be distracting at times, but Barnard's gentle, honest tone breathes new life into a heartbreaking, compelling story.
|The Arbor Trailer|