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By Doug Brunell | June 4, 2007

Ulbert is a painter who suffers from bipolar disorder (not exactly uncommon among artistic types). This short documentary is kind of a sketch of his life. It briefly looks at his childhood, his teenage years, what his friends and family think, and where he is at now. His artwork is sprinkled throughout the film, and it seems to match its creator almost perfectly in tone. While all that sounds like a splendid thing, it really falls short of the mark.

One glaring problem this film has is that it doesn’t do enough to get you into the mind of Ulbert. Even the interviews with the man leave viewers wanting more. It’s almost as if the filmmakers realized there was a lot to be said, but they figured since they only had twenty minutes to do it they would just kind of touch on the basics. That may be fine to show to a crowd before an art opening, but it does a disservice to viewers at home.

“Ulbert” robs its audience of what should be the film’s goal — an understanding, appreciation and desire to see more of the painter and his work. Instead, he becomes a talented member of a sea of painters who are good, but will never be fully appreciated (or even known) by a sizable group of people. Shame on the movie for that, though its heart is in the right place.

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