Love and Fury is one of the most narratively ambitious documentaries of the year. Director Sterlin Harjo follows a plethora of Native American artists who vary in their locales and individual aesthetics. From music to abstract painting to literary works, no form of Native art goes unmentioned in this feature.
Unfortunately, the breadth of interview subjects makes Love and Fury lack a sense of direction. Each artist’s journey is incredibly intimate and the connection to their art is engrossing. However, just as the audience becomes invested in an individual narrative, Harjo diverts to another artist and the process continues to repeat for the majority the film’s 93 minute runtime.
At the same time though, one can understand Harjo’s desire to cover as many Native American artists as possible, given the complete dearth of media coverage provided to this co-cultural group. If Native Americans had greater representation in our culture industries, Harjo could have potentially developed this documentary with a narrower focus and fewer interviewees. Instead, Love and Fury is forced to stand as a cinematic monolith of contemporary Native American Artistry.
Even with a breakneck narrative pace, Love and Fury still contains captivating moments about the power of artistic expression in an unjust world. Witnessing the experimental nature of these visionary creators who try and buck the assimilative nature of the “prestigious” culture industries is inspiring to budding artists everywhere.
While Native Americans have encountered prejudice and erasure of their heritage for centuries, the ability of these artists to convert this justifiable fury into masterworks of unique artistic expression demonstrates the power of a documentary like Love and Fury.
The Silver Lining
One of the strongest elements of Love and Fury is Royce Sharp’s sound mixing. Considering the vast differences in musical styles and venues, Sharp beautifully allows each artist to maintain the integrity of their pieces while still sounding cohesive on a home television set up.
Love and Fury is available today, December 3rd on Netflix.