Review: The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover

It sheds light on a fascinating art world and justice system constantly in search of an offender.

The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover
Photo: First Run/Icarus Films

Tough-as-nails and with a heavy British accent, director Paul Yule sometimes resembles a more famous BBC documentarian: Nick Broomfield. Yule acts as the viewers’ voice of reason, guiding them through The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover via a subjective voiceover and confrontational interviewing tactics, peeling away the deception and performance of his subjects. He suggests near the beginning of the film, “This situation doesn’t seem so black and white.” But Broomfield penetrates seedy underworlds whereas Yule’s art-and-crime mystery unravels with all the luxury, eroticism, and intrigue of an episode of Dominick Dunne’s Power, Privledge & Justice. Conchita Link sits behind bars for allegedly stealing millions of dollars worth of her late husband O. Winston Link’s celebrated photographs. How you prove that a wife—who was also Winston’s business partner—stole her husband’s property from inside their own home, as one person says, is a very tricky thing, predicated in this case on layers of circumstantial evidence and hearsay between the Links. Yule insinuates that this case is not nearly as cut-and-try as prosecutors (or Conchita) make it out to be—everyone is an actor, and possibly suspect: One prosecutor calls Chonchita’s punishment “harsh but justified” with a smirk; Winston Link sobs on the stand describing the beauty of his stolen photos’ West Virginia locale (the negatives, which we owns, are perfectly re-printable); and Conchita describes her husband’s supposed sadomasochistic fetishes with details so bizarre they stretch the limits of believability. Ironies and eccentricities abound, including the stunning realization that prosecutors could try Conchita for first-degree larceny only through her own work boosting bids for her husband’s photos. By the end, Yule is unable to come to a final conclusion about the case, but he sheds light on a fascinating art world and justice system constantly in search of an offender.

 Director: Paul Yule  Distributor: First Run/Icarus Films  Running Time: 79 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2005

Paul Schrodt

Paul Schrodt is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles and covering entertainment. He’s contributed to Esquire, GQ, Men’s Health, The Wall Street Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles magazine, and others.

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