A hair’s breadth from hagiography, Scott Hicks’s Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts is much like its subject: affable, quotable and emotionally guarded in the extreme.
Planned as a tribute to this work-obsessed musician, Glass proceeds genteelly through an intellectually inquisitive and deeply spiritual life. Balancing prodigious musical commitments with qigong and Taoism, Glass, who turned 71 in January, maintains a rigorous daily schedule that would daunt any man half his age. Somewhere on the fringes his current wife, Holly Critchlow, and two infant children provide the sounds and comforts of family.
Yet whether chatting about his aversion to music theory or appreciation of negative reviews, Glass — like his music — remains frustratingly distant. Interviews with friends, siblings and artistic collaborators like the artist Chuck Close and the filmmaker Errol Morris (“Philip does existential dread better than anyone”) only bolster the film’s admiring and self-satisfied tone.
Not until the final minutes does this veneer crack as Hicks, almost in spite of himself, becomes hypnotized by Critchlow’s sudden confession of emotional pain. While the camera clings to her massive brown eyes, the film falls awkwardly silent: like a lightning bolt on a gloomy day, her unexpected outburst is more harshly illuminating than anything that has gone before.
Glass: A Portrait of Philip
in Twelve Parts
DIRECTED BY: Scott Hicks
STARRING: Woody Allen (as himself), Philip Glass (as himself), Errol Morris (as himself), Godfrey Reggio (as himself)
RUNNING TIME: 116 MINUTES
TAIWAN RELEASE: TODAY