Picture of His Life: Nir and Menkin’s Documentary of Ace Israeli Photographer Amos Nachoum (Israel)

Yonatan Nir and Dani Menkin’s docu, Picture of His Life, chronicles the risky efforts of ace Israeli photographer Amos Nachoum as he tries to fulfill his (nearly obsessive) goal of filming up close a polar bear.

Grade: B (*** out of *****)

Though he projects a youthful energy, Nachoum is now a senior citizen. but you could not tell from the way he looks, talks, or goes about his extraordinarily dangerous work.

The work of Nachoum, who specializes in filming wild underwater creatures, has appeared in the most prestigious papers and magazines, National Geographic, Time, Life, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler.

Nachoum almost photographing a polar bear early on, but he almost got killed during an attack. Unfazed, he travels to the Canadian Arctic for a second effort, with a crew of directors, underwater cinematographer Adam Ravetch and local Inuit guide Joe Kaludjak.

The documentary shows his rich and diverse output, including photos of sharks, whales, crocodiles and even anaconda.

Despite the fascinating character at the center, the docu is flawed both structurally and technically.  We often complain about features that are too long, but here is film that could have been longer than 72 minutes.

Slim and contrived, Picture of His Life is not a particularly well made docu, and it suffers from arbitrary editing.  There’s too much footage about the preparatory processes, and too heavy reliance on testimonies from Nachoum’s collaborators, instead of getting the singular voice of this eccentric man, as he reaches the twilight of his life.

The directors seen unconcerned with issues of pacing and building up momentum to the compelling climax.