If you’re familiar with That Hashtag Show, chances are pretty high that you’re familiar with DeLoreans from the classic 80s film, Back to the Future, but how many of you actually know the story behind the (in)famous car? Framing John DeLorean takes us back in time, just like Doc Brown, except you don’t need to steal plutonium from Libyan terrorists to do it. IFC films was kind enough to provide me with a screener for the film and some time to speak with the directors Sheena M. Joyce and Don Argott.
Framing John DeLorean isn’t your typical documentary. In addition to real archive footage of those involved in the story, it also uses reenactments of important moments, almost like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, except here, we know how everything turns out and there are no supernatural elements to be found. Taking on the role of John DeLorean is Alec Baldwin. In the doc, Baldwin reveals that years ago, when a Biopic about DeLorean was being shopped around, John had contacted him about taking on the role. While that film never manifested, Framing John DeLorean was a second chance, though the filmmakers were completely unaware.
During our interview, Don and Sheena revealed that they had no idea Alec had been attached to a DeLorean film previously. Alec had come to them after being a fan of The Art of the Steal and wanting to work with them on something in the future. In the intervening time, they had become attached to a different DeLorean Biopic, which eventually turned into this film. Wanting to attach a big name to it, they approached Baldwin and pitched him the idea, one thing led to another and Alec came on board, but it wasn’t until later that they had found out John DeLorean had actually called Baldwin and asked him to play him in the earlier film.
Alec was also adamant that he would only take on the role IF he could nail the look. John DeLorean had a very specific look and unique mannerisms that he wanted to make sure he could present convincingly – and after watching the film, I think he did a great job of capturing him. John was a very complicated man who had a drive to succeed that led him down a dark path, not so dissimilar from Walter White in Breaking Bad. While their motives and methods were decidedly different, their desire to win took them in similar directions.
Sheena and Don have done an excellent job of providing the audience with a look at a person who is the perfect example of how good people can do bad things . . . or how bad people can do good thing . . . and I think that’s one of the questions this movie asks. Was John DeLorean a good guy who made bad choices or a bad guy who did some good along the way. I can’t answer that question and the directors, Sheena and Don don’t want to. They saw a man who was a risk taker. A man who was seduced by the lifestyle he was leading and found that every time he took a risk that paid off, he was willing to go a little further the next time. So how do we judge John Delorean? That’s for you to decide. I absolutely recommend watching this film, while you get interviews with people like Bob Gale (Writer, Back to the Future) and Tamir Ardon (DeLorean Historian), what makes this documentary great is the interviews with his children and having to decide for yourself who John DeLorean was.
In the current political climate, it’s easy to label people as good or bad or heroes or villains, but the truth is, real life is much more complicated than just what you see on TV and it’s hard to judge people solely by what you see of them in the media. Framing John DeLorean is now showing in select theaters and is also available on VOD, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, and Xbox.