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Pollock

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The trouble with biopics is that people’s lives don’t often have “plots” in the conventional sense of the word. Where stories have beginnings, middles and ends, real life has a beginning and an ending, but there’s no guarantee anything in between will go anywhere.

So “Pollock,” in which Ed Harris directs himself as modern artist Jackson Pollock, does well to address not the painter’s entire life, but just the part from when he met his wife, up to his death.

His wife turns out to be Lee Krasner (Marcia Gay Harden), a Brooklyn girl who takes note of Pollock’s talent. An artist herself, she knows he has potential. It falls upon her to light a fire under the unmotivated drunk: Pollock is almost the quintessential “artist” in that he is a moody, insecure voluptuary.

They meet in Greenwich Village in 1941. Soon after, she arranges for him to meet renowned art dealer Peggy Guggenheim (Amy Madigan). His career takes off from there, hampered by his drinking, shiftlessness and general orneriness. (The first words we hear from Pollock’s lips are “[expletive] Picasso!”)

Harris does well playing a weary artist. His eyes are expressive, and the scenes of him painting are entrancing.

As a director, Harris also impresses. His style is too use lingering, unhurried shots. One might call this “slow,” but it doesn’t drag. Admittedly, if one is bored by the idea of watching an artist create, one would be bored with “Pollock.” But the movie is not for those people. It’s an intriguing portrayal of genius, and of the creation process.

B (; R, some harsh profanity, some sexuality.)