Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman Revealed
The Inside Story Of Sideshow Collectibles
Guardians Of The Galaxy Review
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
Subscribe: 6 Issues For £15!
Subscribe today and save 37% off the cover price!
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Mark Olmstead
Amir Bar-Lev
Laura Olmstead.
Directors
Amir Bar-Lev.
Screenwriters
Amir Bar-Lev.
Running Time
84 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
All This Mayhem
3 Star Empire Rating
Guardians Of The Galaxy
4 Star Empire Rating
A Promise
1 Star Empire Rating
A Night At The Cinema In 1914
4 Star Empire Rating
Hide Your Smiling Faces
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Two Days, One Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Some Like It Hot
5 Star Empire Rating
A Hard Day's Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Boyhood
5 Star Empire Rating
Rebel Without A Cause
5 Star Empire Rating

My Kid Could Paint That
Can toddlers create modern art?


submit to reddit


Plot
American documentary filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev explores the work of Marla Olmstead, a four year-old painting prodigy. Her elegantly crafted works of abstract expressionism have commanded up to $15,000 a canvas, sparking belief that a child genius was at work. But is that the whole story?


Review
My Kid Could Paint That

“I believe the child protection authorities should take your child away from you; you are a pair of sick, twisted fucks.” So reads an email sent to Mark and Laura Olmstead, parents of four year-old Marla, the pint-sized Pollock who caused a sensation in the art world when a gallery in New York State held her first solo exhibition back in 2004.

Her story was widely reported and it was an editorial in The New York Times that caught the eye of documentary filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev. He believed that a film focusing on her work would allow him to debate the academic worthiness of modern art. Prior to making this fascinating documentary, he looked at the work of, say, Mark Rothko, and simply thought: “My kid could paint that.”

While his documentary does indeed fuel that debate, it also does much more than that. Bar-Lev accidentally stumbles upon an even more engaging editorial angle when American television show 60 Minutes casts doubt on the authenticity of the young artist’s paintings and suggests that her father helped in their creation. After all, when the cameras are pointing at the young artist, she either won’t paint, or simply smears the colours into a muddy gloop, as would most four year-olds.

This sceptical reporting caused uproar, with numerous collectors demanding an explanation. In truth, it’s a difficult case to answer; as Bar-Lev notes, why would the family invite both his film crew and
60 Minutes into their home if they had something to hide? In a bid to answer their critics, the family did capture their daughter painting on camera, although few critics, or indeed casual observers, would argue that the filmed painting matched the ethereal beauty of her earlier works. Maybe her style changed - or maybe she’s simply not as accomplished as the art world once thought.

Once the filmmaker articulates his doubt to the family, there is intense friction - the Olmsteads feel betrayed - which only serves to boost the quality and tension in the movie. In his defence, Bar-Lev maintains a keen objectivity, and viewers will no doubt sense that he feels for the family as they suffer a barrage of hate-mail. Whether this deluge is deserved, audiences themselves will have to decide.


Verdict
A highly engaging documentary that recounts a remarkable tale. Young Marla is clearly talented, but so too is her father…


Reviewed by Will Lawrence

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Covers Are Here
Bard The Bowman or Smaug The Magnificent?

A Pocket Guide To Game Of Thrones’ New Cast Members
Know your Doran Martell from your Nym Sand

Directors Special: Peter Hyams Goes Film-By-Film
The veteran director on Timecop, Outland, 2010, Enemies Closer and more

Explore The Massive Avengers: Age Of Ultron Comic-Con Banner
Use our interactive gadget to zoom in on Hulk, Iron Man, The Vision and co. in action

The 10 Biggest Stories Of Comic-Con 2014
The shocks to emerge from this year's geek-fest. Avengers! Max! Mann!

Models Inc.: The Inside Story Of Sideshow Collectibles
How the likes of Batman, Superman and Luke Skywalker become collectible figures

The Empire Podcast #121: Brett Ratner Talks Hercules On This Week's Show
Plus The Purge: Anarchy producer Jason Blum pops in to talk horror

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time Subscribers' Cover

Subscribe today and get the cover and 3 issues for only £10!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)