In the first act of Framing John Delorean, you might find yourself humming the Right Said Fred novelty hit as GM’s rising young star takes control of the automaker’s stagnating Pontiac division and transforms it with the introduction of the GTO.
But you might find yourself humming it again later in the movie when Alec Baldwin reveals an interesting little tidbit. Back in the 1980s, when several Hollywood studios were considering a Delorean biopic, the automaker called Baldwin personally to ask if he would consider playing the role. Given the Baldwin brothers’ heartthrob status at the time, Delorean’s self-esteem was certainly not lacking.
Life in the fast lane was in John Delorean’s blood, and he fancied himself as the ultimate sex symbol in an industry dominated by a generation of cookie-cutter engineers and executives. But breaking the mold also meant breaking the rules, and once Delorean started, he found it hard to stop. That’s why, eventually, he found himself on the scrap heap of the automotive business, discredited and discarded after he gambled away his fortune on the car that bore his name.
Framing John Delorean, mimicking its subject, also likes to break the rules. It’s an interesting hybrid — part documentary, part biopic — that frequently breaks the fourth wall. It relies extensively on archival footage of the man himself. You’ll also see plenty of interviews, with his children, co-workers, and even the FBI agents and informants who famously took him down in an undercover sting operation. You’ll see news footage from coverage of his trial. But then, you’ll also see Baldwin and Morena Baccarin as Delorean and his wife, supermodel Cristina Ferrare, in re-enactments of moments from their life together. Sometimes, you’ll see Baldwin acting out the same scenes from the archival footage, as if it was merely another camera angle. And you’ll see Baldwin in his makeup chair several times, offering stories and theories about Delorean as he is being transformed into the character’s various stages of life.
If all of that sounds a bit chaotic, to the filmmakers’ credit, they make it work without too much confusion. On the other hand, the filmmakers remind us many times — maybe a little too often — that Hollywood has always wanted to make a movie about John Delorean, as if they’re patting themselves on the back for finally finishing one.
The rise and fall of John Delorean is, indeed, an intriguing story. And, thanks to that makeup artist we see constantly working on him, Baldwin looks remarkably like Delorean throughout the film.
Ultimately, the film is a bit like the car that Delorean built — at times gimmicky, at times a bit too flashy, and occasionally it rides a little rough, but it gets you from Point A (his start in the auto business) to Point B (his downfall and death) in style. It’s by no means perfect, but if you like compelling true-life stories, it’s worth the ride.
Framing John Delorean now available on VOD.