Film Review: Hockney


Documentary Hockney offers an interesting portrait of artist David Hockney, despite not being a fully satisfying film.

Charting the course of famed British artist David Hockney’s life and career, director Randall Wright’s film explores the artist’s humble beginnings in Bradford through to his time living in Los Angeles. The film looks at how the artist’s work has developed over his career…

Randall Wright’s documentary Hockney is less an encompassing look at its subject, and more a delve into particular areas of the artist’s life and work. The film is not a chronological look at Hockney’s life and career; rather it examines particular eras and pieces.

The documentary benefits from interviewing not only David Hockney himself, but many close contacts from different eras in his life. The anecdotes revealed in Hockney help to build up a picture of the artist, revealing a down to earth individual, in spite of his success.

The film ponders on the ideas behind David Hockney’s art. For some pieces, the film examines the precise inspiration. Nonetheless, there is a certain shallowness to the documentary. The documentary looks into the artist’s early life but jumps rather abruptly to other periods without really giving a feel to what happened in between. Moreover, the chronology of his career, and more recent developments are not clear.

Music in the film can be overpowering at times. For those less familiar with David Hockney, it would have been more instructive to identify contributors and their relationship to him in a less ambiguous fashion.

Overall Hockney does illuminate at times, even if it is not the essential documentary viewers may have been hoping for.

Hockney was screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2014.