This week's Culture Vultures recommend . . . | Culture Vultures | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Culture Vultures

This week's Culture Vultures recommend . . .

The Arbor, The Artist, and Fringe

by and


Adam Kempenaar, Filmspotting cofounder, host, and executive producer, is captivated by:

The Arbor Last year around this time I was encouraging every movie lover I knew to seek out the challenging, provocative, and often disturbing Greek "family" film Dogtooth. This year I can't stop talking—or thinking—about The Arbor, Clio Barnard's experimental account of the troubled life and even more troubled legacy of British playwright Andrea Dunbar.

The Arbor's radical conceit eschews talking heads in favor of actors lip-synching pretaped interviews with family members and friends of Dunbar, who wrote three semiautobiographical dramas about coming of age in her Yorkshire council estate. Juxtaposing these performances with street-staged productions of selected Dunbar pieces, the layers of artifice commingle in thrilling, revelatory—and appropriate—ways. Dunbar employed art as a means to understand and ultimately transcend her dysfunctional world; exploiting Dunbar's own aesthetic, Barnard offers representations of tragic personal experiences that inform and illuminate.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Related Film

Director: Clio Barnard

Producer: Tracy O'Riordan

Cast: Christine Bottomley, Neil Dudgeon, Manjinder Virk, Robert Emms and Natalie Gavin

Related Film

Official Site:

Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Producer: Thomas Langmann, Daniel Delume, Antoine De Cazotte and Richard Middleton

Cast: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller and Missi Pyle