Film Review: ‘Serendipity’

Variety | 10/18/2019 | Guy Lodge
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“If I could have a secret superpower, it would be to heal with my hands,” says French artist Prune Nourry in her autobiographical documentary “Serendipity.” It’s an understandable enough admission, given that she was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 31, fighting a battle against it that included undergoing a mastectomy, harvesting her eggs in advance of chemotherapy, and a tough personal reckoning with her changed body. It would have been easier, of course, to heal herself by her own touch — except in Nourry’s view, that’s essentially what she did, albeit through art rather than science. “That’s why I’m a sculptor,” she says, gesturing toward her own busy, clay-acquainted hands: “Serendipity” documents creativity blossoming from misfortune, positing that, alongside medicine at least, it’s inspiration that has kept Nourry alive.

Once you banish all rom-com associations from your mind, then, “Serendipity” functions as two documentaries in one. The first is a heartfelt cancer diary, sometimes shot disorientingly from the gurney as Nourry is wheeled through hospital wards and mumbled over by concerned doctors. The other is effectively a polished career portfolio, reviewing Nourry’s elaborately conceptual art projects from the past, present and even future for those who may not be acquainted with her work, and considering their potential legacy as the artist herself faces her mortality. Those two remits overlap more tidily in some sequences than in others — either way, the project is very much driven by the slightly melancholic whimsy of Nourry’s strong personality, as she fashions “Serendipity” itself as another artwork in her image.

Release - Run - Berlin - Serendipity - Number

Granted a limited theatrical release after a festival run that began in Berlin, “Serendipity” has accrued a number of influential patrons and admirers along the way, including executive producers Angelina Jolie (who herself underwent a prophylactic mastectomy some years ago) and Darren Aronofsky — while the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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