My Life directed by Nicolas Winding Refn is a documentary film that's actually directed by Refn's partner, Liv Corfixen. It follows Refn as he goes about directing the film Only God Forgives, which was his follow-up movie to the huge commercial hit Drive.
Refn has flown his entire family out to Thailand for the shoot and from the off set you can see that the personal stakes are high for him.
I was asked to review this film because I am a filmmaker myself. Obviously not on the same level as Refn, but we have had some reasonable success with over 25 million views on our short film content. So, it was extremely interesting/reassuring for me to see that Refn goes through the exact same problems and emotional stresses that we do, except for him the stakes are much higher!
Refn is dealing with so many things during the process of bringing the film to life and the documentary does a really good job of highlighting that.
He has to balance family life with the day to day stresses of filmmaking. Funding is an issue, so he must basically whore himself and Ryan Gosling out to the Thai papprazzi for money to pay for better visual effects. He can't show any emotion to the cast and crew in fear that they will lose hope in his vision for the movie.
But what I found most interesting was that Refn is constantly second guessing himself throughout the entire filmmaking process. He is constantly thinking, Will the movie be as well received as Drive? Is the story good enough? Do I even deserve to make this movie? It's humbling to see someone who has made some hugely successful films worry so much about what other people will think of his work. And I think these are the kind of questions all creatives ask them themselves when putting something out into the public.
But once Only God Forgives has been released and all the stress is over, all Refn can think about is making another film and starting the process all over again...And I know exactly how he feels!
My main issues with this film, is that because of the relationship that Liv Corfixen has with Refn, she sometimes finds it difficult to get information from him. A more impartial and experienced documentary maker would probably have been able to get Refn to open up more and express what was going on in his head.
Overall, I think this movie does exactly what it sets out to do...show just how much of themselves directors put into their work and that whatever we think about the finished films they create, we should be respectful of the work that has gone into them.