US journalist Alison Klayman's documentary picks up the story of Ai Weiwei, a dissident art-activist whose troubled relationship with the Chinese government threatens to spill into something more sinister.
The humbling of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei by the regime he’d striven to discomfit ends this portrait on a chastening note. An activist and provocateur as much as a creator, Ai is the Warholian superstar who put his genius for self-promotion to heroic use in exposing police brutality, the dark side of the Beijing Olympics and a conspiracy over the number of children killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. But, while extolling Ai’s courage and ingenuity, director Alison Klayman offers few insights into his art and glosses over a private life that often conflicts with his public image. Compelling, but lightweight.
Klayman exploits the opportunity to follow a man at the eye of a cultural and political storm, although more detail on his creative process and private life would have welcome.
Reviewed by David Parkinson