Home » HBO Documentary Films 2023: ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED| Review

HBO Documentary Films 2023: ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED| Review

by Jef Dinsmore
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Docs_AllTheBeautyAndTheBloodshed-300x171Overview: ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED is an epic, emotional, and interconnected story about internationally renowned artist and activist Nan Goldin told through her slideshows, intimate interviews, groundbreaking photography, archival family snapshots and rare footage of her personal fight to hold the Sackler family accountable for the opioid overdose crisis. The deeply personal and urgently political film interweaves Goldin’s past and present, from the actions of Prescription Addiction Intervention Now (P.A.I.N.) at renowned art institutions to Goldin’s photography of her friends and peers through her epic “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency,” and her legendary 1989 NEA-censored AIDS exhibition “Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing.” Debut Date: Sunday, March 19, 2023 

Expectations: I am not familiar with this artist or her battles, but I am very much aware of how the power of art can send strong, lasting messages. The glimpses in the trailer of her artistic protests did not go unnoticed and I hope and am eager to see their full impact within this documentary. I am more interested in that aspect than anything.

Gut Reaction: I could actually listen to Nan Goldin speak more. As the narrator of this work, she has a way with words, a turn of phrase that can capture a moment. Of course, it is her life story to date so, who better to tell it really than her? She drew my attention, perhaps that is what helped it to become an Oscar-nominated film.  

The focus is not really on her life or even her career but on her cause and she was adamant and passionate about it. Her life was interesting enough; her style of art, only glimpsed throughout, was not to my taste but, like all art, respected. Her cause, however, was exciting to see championed here. I was not aware of P.A.I.N. itself but quite aware of the movement to punish the Sackler Family for their actions via the rebuking of their charitable contributions and the stripping of their names from museums & galleries countrywide. I also knew of successes in that movement, and it was nice to see some of their big wins play out in this work via Goldin’s efforts. Docs_AllTheBeautyAndTheBloodshed-Pic2-300x162 

Though it seemed the film was about calling out the #1 perpetrators of the opioid crisis and the successes towards that end it also nicely, boldly told us of the kind of woman Nan Goldin is.  

In Conclusion: I came for the artistic protests for a just cause and walked away with that plus the appreciation and her life-long quest to acknowledge and support the outsiders she witnessed both in her art and in her cause. Opioid addicts and victims didn’t have a chance against the big-money Sacklers until Goldin stepped in. I love Rotten Tomatoes’ consensus: “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is a bone-deep look at a photographer’s fight against addiction and the institution responsible for her pain through her gritty lens.”  

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