Cinema Review: Nothing Left Unsaid | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, March 31st, 2020  

Nothing Left Unsaid

Studio: HBO
Directed by Liz Garbus

Apr 08, 2016 Web Exclusive
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There’s no doubt that Gloria Vanderbilt is old. At 91, she’s been old for quite some time. It seems that in the wake of several documentaries honoring the elder stateswomen of New York in the past couple of years (Elaine Strich, Iris Apfel, the geriatric fashionistas of the Upper West Side…) Mrs. Vanderbilt is due a legacy film. Executive Produced by her most well-known son, CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper, Nothing Left Unsaid explores the events of Vanderbilt’s storied and very public life through purportedly candid conversation between the two.

Born into one of the wealthiest American families of the 1920s, Gloria became known to the public as the Poor Little Rich Girl, the result of a brutal custody battle that swept the nation in the 1930s. Cooper muses, “She’s been in the public eye probably longer than anyone I can think of.” As a result, there is a treasure trove of primary sources for Garbus to draw from including newspaper clippings, news reels, promotional materials and excerpts from her deeply personal 1985 memoir, Once Upon a Time: A True Story, and animated vignettes modeled after Vanderbilt’s own paintings.

Although she’s led an extraordinary life – boasting affairs with famous and respected men, exploring careers in  fashion design, painting, acting, and writing, and survived several tragedies such as enduring an extended estrangement from her mother and witnessing her son Carter’s suicide – Nothing Left Unsaid falls flat. By the time Garbus gets us to Vanderbilt’s third marriage (to film director Sydney Lumet), this parade of grandeur and heartbreak has become tiresome. Without the momentum provided by a big reveal or a larger, overarching point, the film becomes repetitive, lags. Instead the film reads as an indugence for Cooper, providing him a public platform to leave “Nothing Left Unsaid” between him and his mother as she reaches the end of her (granted) incredible life, without pushing her to face anything particularly controversial. And while this may be worthwhile endeavor, it isn’t the most compelling fodder for a film.

Author rating: 5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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