Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case (NR)
Documentary 79 June 6, 2014
There's feeling as well, as in a scene where Weiwei's mother fearfully admonishes him, "If this was 1957, they would've killed you already." But it's not 1957, and the film illuminates why the government has been so hapless when dealing with him: He blatantly challenges the authority of the state, yet his international visibility protects him from the harshest methods of silencing troublemakers. For Weiwei, the choice to strike a dissident stance is simple: "If I don't speak out, I am dead already." With such a compelling central figure it would be tough for the doc to not stimulate, but stimulation aside, its rather shapeless narrative can feel desultory. That home-movie approach is alternately thought-provoking and banal; do we really need a scene of Weiwei sleeping while his friend photographs him? In spite of the intermittent frustrations, however, Weiwei remains a captivating figure.