Finding Vivian Maier is the rare documentary that centers on a subject that wasn’t discovered until after their death. Vivian Maier was a nanny for various families that freelanced in photography, never showing anyone her captured moments until John Maloof bought all of her boxes at an auction for a history project he was doing. Who would’ve thought that his discovery would lead to one of the great artistic minds of the late 20th century? The film navigates secondhand accounts of Maier’s life, with people ranging from previous clients to old friends discussing Maier’s secrecy and intimate nature around her life. They not only talk about her talent, but also about her obsessive nature, abusive child-rearing, and psychological issues. It’s a film that has too many talking heads, taking away from the narrative’s impact and focus. Yet I find documentaries that focus on the darker elements of a person’s life to be the most balanced, and for that reason Finding Vivian Maier fascinates me.
Grade: ★★★★ (out of 5)