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Mondays With William: Film Review

The Bottom Line

The doc has some human interest but no grasp of its artistic context.

Opens

Friday, October 18 (Brentwood Communications International)

Director

Steve Beebe

Steve Beebe watches an attempt to turn a homeless man into a successful artist.

A portrait of a homeless, schizophrenic painter who unquestioningly accepts his supporters' belief in the brilliance of his paintings, Steve Beebe's Mondays With William displays no awareness of the Outsider Art world that might provide context for William Laga's would-be career. But it is sincere in its interest in his relationship with patron Marcelle Danan. The depiction of that bond (and the details of Laga's mental illness) may hold some viewers' interest, but the rudimentary doc lacks the ingredients that would attract attention either in theaters or on video.

Danan, an evidently well-to-do Parisienne who lives in Los Angeles, is effusive in her praise of Laga's work, though she clearly latched onto something within the man before she even saw one of his paintings. After funding months of weekly art days -- in which they'd go buy canvasses and gallons of paint, then watch as Laga creates the kind of decorative abstractions you might encounter in a department store or midrange hotel -- she hosts a show of his art. Selling enough paintings to lease him an apartment, she sets him up with what he needs to keep churning out work. Meanwhile, she struggles to get him help with the irrational fears (of germs, conspiracies of contamination and a pervasive "stink") that plague him.

The film's structure is simplistic but still manages to be hazy about the chronology of the pair's relationship and the economic arrangements between them. What it's very clear about is Danan's boosterism: By the film's midpoint, her unqualified enthusiasm makes you wonder if William's not the only one with some mental issues to work out.

Production Company: Brentwood Communications International

Director: Steve Beebe

Producers: Shawn Lawler, Dennis Zerull

Executive producers: Bud Brutsman, Adrienne Janic

Director of photography: Andy Robinson

No rating, 93 minutes