MADE YOU LOOK: A TRUE STORY ABOUT FAKE ART -- An Educational Doc About the Biggest Art Fraud in American History
Review by Camden Ferrell
The events of Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art, may not be familiar to outsiders of the art community at the time of these events. Regardless, the newest film from writer/director Barry Avrich is a very informative and comprehensive description of events. Even though it loses steam by its final act, this documentary is equal parts surprising and interesting.
This documentary details the largest art fraud in American history. In the rich and obsessed art world of New York, a couple brings numerous forged paintings that are then sold to collectors at the reputable Knoedler Gallery. This is an interesting story that isn’t talked about enough in film, and it’s a great basis for the documentary.
One of the most commendable aspects of this documentary is how the director is able to frame the exposition of its subjects into an engaging and effective storytelling device. Especially in the first hour of the film, it is fast paced and doesn’t suffer from any of the lulls associated with heavy exposition.
The aforementioned steady pace of the film can be contributed significantly to the charisma of its interviewees. Featuring many members of the art community and the legal teams associated with this case, this documentary utilizes them as storytellers, and it works very well in the film’s favor.
The movie also does a great job of informing laymen of the jargon of the community without talking down to the audience. It’s truly informative in that regard. For someone like myself, with little knowledge of the inner workings of this industry, I found myself consistently educated throughout this film.
Despite a lot of the film’s virtues, it ultimately flies too close to the sun in its final 30 minutes. It spends its first hour astutely building up the story to its climax and ultimately fumbles it. Rather than maintaining the momentum of the beginning, the final act doubles down on certain aspects that ultimately feel disappointing. It drags significantly in comparison to the rest of the film.
Even though it severely runs out of steam in the end, it’s still a very thorough exploration into a truly surprising story that is full of twists. It should be appeal to both fans and novices to this world that is more interesting than it initially seems.
Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art is an above average documentary from Avrich. There’s a lot to enjoy from its elements of storytelling and its informative nature.
Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art is available on Netflix February 23.