Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

My Kid Could Paint That

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Hailed as a prodigy, condemned as a fraud, abstract painter Marla Olmstead was selling canvases for $24,000 before she started kindergarten. Her seemingly cautious and levelheaded parents granted documentary maker Amir Bar-Lev intimate access to their family when Marla was first being celebrated in the U.S. and Europe, which gave him a unique vantage point when 60 Minutes II broadcast a report in February 2005 suggesting that Marla's father was coaching her if not painting the canvases himself. The mystery has never been resolved, but to his credit Bar-Lev acknowledges that he himself has become part of the story, torn between sympathy and suspicion. The self-reflexive narrative is particularly fascinating because Marla's story is so critical to selling her art; everyone involved, the filmmaker included, has a vested interest in proving it genuine or fake. PG-13, 82 min. a Music Box. --J.R. Jones

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