Review: Blue Bag Life

Directed by Lisa Selby, Rebecca Hirsch Lloyd-Evans and Alex Fry, written by Josie Cole, Lisa Selby. Artist Lisa Selby‘s audacious and deeply personal odyssey through love, artistry and self-hood illuminates this uncompromising and powerful documentary portrait of a life touched by addiction.

Making a documentary on your own life is a very intimate thing but Lisa Selby takes it even further. There’s a remarkable honesty to how openly Selby shares her past and present with viewers. She employs a strong candor to do justice to the poignancy and emotional complexity she tackles in this exploration of addiction, love and motherhood. When it opens, its candid nature is extremely charming, it’s not often you see such a blunt conversation but as it progresses you can feel there’s a darkness that lingers in the background.

While it traverses through the memory of her mother, the style and editing are incredibly strong. There’s a hugely intentional feel to it, it’s perfectly constructed to hold that candidness and build a striking sharpness at the same time. The way that it progresses sincerely allows you to get to know the people involved. Moving back and forth through the timeline, rather than simply linear, allows a very natural growth to the detail which enhances its compelling atmosphere.

It becomes more intimate as time goes on, evolving its focus from Selby’s childhood and her mother to her own private life. Interestingly the one thing it doesn’t particularly explore is her work as an artist, although its influence can still be felt. What this team creates is a balanced look at addiction through both the perspective of the addict and their loved ones.

Perhaps the only weakness is in its latter half, when it begins to turn more and more inwards. As Shelby shifts her focus to how all of what we’ve seen so far affects her potential role as a mother. It’s a different kind of intimacy that dives into romantic relationships and support systems. The conversation changes to something less about reflection and more introspection, creating a pensive atmosphere. It adds a looser feel to its movement and inhabits the artistry to Selby but may be a transition that doesn’t work for everyone.

Blue Bag Life is quite possibly one of the most honest and open documentaries that you’ll ever watch. It’s incredibly intimate and Lisa Selby guides the audience through intensely personal moments of her life. It’s both blunt and charming, a statement on addiction and how having an addict in your life alters your perspective on your own persona. The visual style ranges from quickly captured conversations with a simple setup to extremely curated moments. That variety was a fantastic choice and expertly captures the sincerity, honesty and poignancy to Blue Bag Life.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

In UK Cinemas from 7 April

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