I hadn’t had the occasion to revisit Ed Harris’ Pollock since originally reviewing it back in 2001, and it was surprising to see that it came across to me almost exactly the same way eight years later. That’s unusual because films tend to either seem better or worse with the passage of time, rarely do they stay the same. Not so with Pollock. The aspects of the film I admired—notably the performances and each and every scene where Pollock (Harris) paints—I still admired. The thing I found most wanting—a sense of what drove the artist—I still found wanting.
Perhaps it’s simply impossible to know what that driving force was, though it seems more likely that Harris hemmed himself in with the idea put forth by Pollock in the film: that meaning is immaterial and the art should simply be looked at. That said, Pollock remains one of the best biopics of its era—and just possibly the single best film ever made about a painter. No other comes to mind—at least, no other that’s about a real person. That’s worth noting in itself. Maybe Harris is nearer than it seems to the mark by not attempting an explanation.