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My Kid Could Paint That

Amir Bar-Lev

My Kid Could Paint That
Directed by: Amir Bar-Lev
(Sony Pictures)
Marla Omstead’s abstract paintings are compared to Jackson Pollock’s. Her exhibition is covered by the New York Times, but she doesn’t like interviews. At her opening, she sticks close to her mom. Marla is four years old.

Amir Bar-Lev begins his doc thinking he’s presenting a shy child prodigy and her photogenic family. But the focus soon pulls away from the cute kid. Life is all limos and Letterman until a 60 Minutes shocker runs with a child psychologist insisting that Marla had assistance from her father. The family is vilified. Bar-Lev too expresses growing doubts as Marla becomes the Looney Tunes singing frog, only painting masterpieces in front of her family.

Thus the story becomes a layered exploration of media ethics; a mystery with an ambiguous conclusion.

Unfortunately the film misses an opportunity to debunk the popular suspicion that non-figurative---abstract-expressionist---art is a scam. Even Anthony Brunelli, a photo-realist painter whose gallery represents Marla, admits using her to expose artistic fraud. Times critic Michael Kimmelman offers educated opinions, but Bar-Lev never speaks to a curator or practicing artist. Like everyone else, he was blinded by those big eyes and sunny globs of paint.

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