If there were any justice in the world — there often isn’t — Alice Guy-Blaché would be remembered alongside D.W. Griffith as one of the great pioneers of the early screen. The good news is that she is becoming better known, but as the new documentary, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché makes clear, not nearly as much as she deserves, nor for the right reasons.
Every subject shares genuine enthusiasm after watching Guy-Blaché’s work, and as messy as “Be Natural” can be at times, with that frenetic pace of info delivery coming from all directions at once, it’s actually the natural tone and pace of a creator who’s excited by their subject matter.
The enterprise would be something to celebrate if the movie itself weren’t so flawed, not just in scholarly terms but in her mania for visualizing seemingly every phone call she made in the hunt for Guy-Blaché material. Sadly, all these problems overwhelm Green’s noteworthy success in tracking down previously unknown documents and photos.