Director John D. Harkrider says the conversations he and best friend Barron Claiborne have in the navel-gazing documentary "All the Beautiful Things" were unscripted and unrehearsed. Alas, that's not how this pretentious and inauthentic movie lands on the audience's ears. Harkrider, a corporate lawyer and filmmaker, and Claiborne, an acclaimed celebrity photographer, meet at a loud jazz club to talk about their long friendship and the rift that tore it apart for several years when Barron was accused of rape, and John backed up the later-discredited story of the supposed victim. Harkrider overloads his narrative with clunky artifice: A comely bartender (Lynn Hill) as sounding board, a jazzman (Jeremy Pelt) as buddha and musical Greek chorus, and line-drawing illustrations (by Matthew Woodson) with voice re-enactments of the men's past troubles. This material might have worked as a stage play, but as a contrived "documentary" it feels phony and self-absorbed.
Sean P. Means
"All the Beautiful Things" screens again at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival: Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Broadway Centre Cinema 6, Salt Lake City; Friday at 2:30 p.m. at the Prospector Square Theatre, Park City; and Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City.