Some people are content to play the game. Winning is ideal, of course, but doing so within the confines of the rules is part of the challenge. For others, the desire to win compels them to point into the distance and yell, “it’s Keith Richards on a pogo stick!” While their challenger is understandably distracted, they move the pieces on the board to suit their needs.
John DeLorean falls into the latter category, according to the new documentary, Framing John DeLorean, directed by Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce. It chronicles the career of the business maverick from his beginnings at GM to his downfall at DMC, which seemed doomed from the start, but survived for as long as it did on the charisma of its leader. DeLorean had that slow, fatherly way of speaking as if he had all the knowledge in the world, yet only shared as much as he thought you could handle. At the same time, he was a car executive with sideburns and a teenage wife, which pushed his public image from the business section to the gossip column. Such a figure with such a fall can’t help but make for a captivating subject. As the movie frequently mentions, biopics of John DeLorean have been circulating in Hollywood for many years, but have yet to find life.
“…chronicles the career of the business maverick from his beginnings at GM to his downfall at DMC…”
Even with all the success, cocaine, women, court trials, and run-ins with the FBI that compose the life of John DeLorean, that’s apparently not enough to make an impression. These days, his name is more associated with a time machine, Michael J. Fox, and some screenwriter gibberish called a flux capacitor. That’s not the case for everyone, however. DeLorean’s kids have a different relationship with their father’s car. It’s their stories give the movie its best moments, such as when DeLorean’s daughter, Kathryn, shows a sketch she made as a child of the acronym, “DMC,” standing for “destroy my childhood.”
What’s even more interesting is DeLorean’s son, Zach, who’s not exactly living the life you’d imagine the son of a successful entrepreneur to be living. Zach lives a life lacking in silver spoons and when he sits in a DeLorean, clearly at the behest of the filmmakers, he’s visibly uncomfortable (and it has nothing to do with leg space). Not appearing to harbor the best feelings for his late father, he gives the movie some of its best lines, such as when he refers to his father’s death as when “God pulled the plug on his ass.”
“…had that slow, fatherly way of speaking, as if he had all the knowledge in the world, yet only shared as much as he thought you could handle.”
The state of DeLorean’s children is a powerful illustration of the tragedy that he wrote for himself. Where the movie follows suit in becoming its own worst enemy is its use of dramatized recreations. By employing actors like Alec Baldwin and Morena Baccarin to act out scenes in DeLorean’s life, it clouds his story in unneeded ambiguity. In addition to their performances, Baldwin and Baccarin are actually interviewed about DeLorean and his wife, Cristina Ferrare. What insight could two actors possibly have that can’t be better found among DeLorean’s family, friends, coworkers, and historians? Why wasn’t my barber interviewed? I think he saw DeLorean on TV once.
Aside from the poorly considered inclusion of staged drama, Framing John DeLorean competently breezes through the rise and fall of the legendary car mogul. Going in knowing little to nothing about DeLorean, I’ve emerged on the other side with the broad strokes and a hint of the man’s character. If that sounds scant, I refer you to your local library or wherever books are sold.
Framing John DeLorean (2019) Directed by Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce. Written by Dan Greeney and Alexandra Orton. Starring Alec Baldwin, Josh Charles, Morena Baccarin, Dean Winters, Michael Rispoli, Dana Ashbrook, Jason Jones, Josh Cooke, Sean Cullen, William Hill, Kathryn DeLorean, Zach DeLorean, Tamir Ardon, Hillel Levin, Patrick Wright.
6 out of 10 stars