HomeMovies Reviews‘Angel Applicant’ Review: A Moving Meditation on Finding Solace in Art

‘Angel Applicant’ Review: A Moving Meditation on Finding Solace in Art

Early on in his extremely private documentary, filmmaker Ken August Meyer presents an intense close-up of his face staring immediately into the digicam. “I’m happy to be here to share this story. I’m Ken,” he says by means of introduction. “It’s nice to meet you. And don’t worry, it’s not contagious.”

What he’s referring to is the situation afflicting him, systemic scleroderma. It’s a life-threatening autoimmune illness that assaults the physique’s connective tissues and inner organs, and there’s no remedy. His chronicling of the illness’s development, and his discovering consolation within the later artworks of Paul Klee, who suffered from the identical situation — though it wasn’t identified till after his dying — kinds the center of the transferring Angel Applicant, receiving its world premiere at SXSW (the place it snagged the highest doc prize).

Angel Applicant

The Bottom Line

Deeply affecting.

Venue: SXSW Film Festival (Documentary Feature Competition)
Director-screenwriter: Ken August Meyer

1 hour 14 minutes

Meyer labored for greater than a decade as a senior artwork director for a significant advert company, which explains the imaginative visible model infusing his movie, together with colourful graphics and animation depicting the manifestations of his situation. What additionally makes Angel Applicant totally different from so many different private documentaries about severe sickness is his essay-like examination of Klee’s life and profession, accompanied by quite a few examples of his artworks which grew to become extra summary as his sickness progressed.

The movie delivers a short biographical portrait of the Swiss-born artist, nicknamed the “Bauhaus Buddha” after he started educating on the artwork faculty situated in Weimar, Germany. He returned to Switzerland in 1933 after the Nazis rose to energy and declared him to be, like so lots of his contemporaries, a “degenerate artist.” Due to their assaults, he had bother relaunching his profession in Europe and, even worse, he started struggling signs of scleroderma not lengthy afterward. The illness, which may severely restrict mobility, affected his work, which grew to become more and more geometric and commenced using heavier strains and bigger blocks of shade.

Meyer noticed Klee’s bodily deterioration as signified by his artworks as mirroring his personal, though he a minimum of had the good thing about realizing his precise medical prognosis. He describes his private connection to Klee’s work as akin to “consolation from an empathetic ghost,” which provides you an instance of the poeticism with which he tells his story.

He additionally shows a refreshing humorousness about his dire state of affairs, as evidenced by whimsical dramatic recreations of precise incidents, together with an encounter with a girl in a deli who, upon seeing Meyer in a frozen place and mistaking him for a model, mentioned to her good friend, “I thought he was real!” Needless to say, she was each startled and embarrassed when Meyer out of the blue started transferring and talking to her. Footage from his fortieth party reveals him blowing out 143 candles, the quantity signifying what his docs had decided to be the organic age of his deteriorating lungs.

The filmmaker recounts the development of his illness in exacting element, together with audio recordings and video footage of consultations with varied medical consultants. His sickness didn’t stop him from making an attempt to reside life to the fullest, together with attaining skilled success, getting fortunately married and having a daughter. But it continued to worsen, inflicting him to expertise fixed ache and a rising lack of mobility. “My birthday suit feels way too tight on me,” he says at one level, referring to his pores and skin. “Like it shrunk in the dryer.”

He underwent surgical procedure on his fingers, and finally, after his pulmonary operate decreased dramatically, obtained a life-saving double lung transplant. He additionally made a pilgrimage to Switzerland, visiting Klee’s remaining residence in Bern — the place he had been visited by the likes of Picasso and Kandinsky — and eventually seeing the artist’s later works, lots of them depicting angels, in particular person.

Meeting the artist’s grandson, Alexander Klee, Meyer is proven a written inscription on the prime of Klee’s remaining, unfinished portray, the tough translation being “Not all of the unexplained is in need of explanation.” The line serves as each a poignant epitaph for Klee and a ravishing grace observe for this affecting movie.



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