TURN EVERY PAGE - THE ADVENTURES OF ROBERT CARO AND ROBERT GOTTLIEB -- A Fascinating Ode to Literature
Review by Cole Groth
Lizzie Gottlieb’s latest documentary, Turn Every Page - The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb, details her father, legendary literature editor Robert Gottlieb, and his decades-long relationship with the Pulitzer Prize-winning political author Robert Caro. I might not be in the target audience as an 18-year-old college student, but there’s something so fascinating about a relatively niche documentary that celebrates knowledge creation. In the 112-minute runtime, Gottlieb creates a riveting tale of the somewhat fading art of literature.
Turn Every Page is thematically split into two separate documentaries. The first part shows Caro’s incredible effort in each of his novels. We follow him as he spends countless hours at a local library and museum, finding information about Lyndon B. Johnson for the latest installment in a currently four-volume biography that he’s been working on for decades. His painstaking work shows the work that goes into making a great piece of literature. The second part has Lizzie following her father as he describes his relationship with Caro. Robert is a fascinating man whose obsession with detail leads to long, nerdy sections about the importance of the semicolon or how a single paragraph could be as important as a single period. It’s a lot of fun to follow these two men who are deeply engaged in their work.
While not focusing on their literature, we’re taught various lessons from the people whom Caro’s works have inspired. It’s fascinating to learn that a few hundred fraudulent votes gave Lyndon B. Johnson the win in his senate primary election in 1948 in a rural county in Texas. The history of New York City’s infrastructure is a fascinating piece of history. Lizzie proves herself a well-seasoned documentarian by weaving so much information together to create a satisfying film. Technically, Turn Every Page is very well done. The pacing is strong, with the runtime not feeling a moment too long or too short. The cinematography is excellent, the sound is good, and it’s an all-around professional production. Since these elements have no notable flaws, we can focus on the film’s core: Lizzie’s father and Robert Caro. Anybody with interest in writing would be wise to listen to the words of these incredibly insightful men. There’s hardly a dull moment in the charmingly elaborate explanations of minute literary details.
As a young film fanatic, I love finding films that take me out of my comfort zone and teach me something new. It’s sad that literature isn’t as popular as it used to be. Still, if this generation of writers can be anything like the duo portrayed in Lizzie Gottlieb’s fantastic documentary, it’ll continue as an excellent art form for generations to come. This is a must-watch for film fans and literature enthusiasts everywhere.
Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb releases in select theaters on December 30.