The remarkable rise & fall of John DeLorean, an engineer & automobile entrepreneur, is the subject of Sheena M. Joyce and Don Argott’s fascinating documentary Framing John DeLorean. The film makes for an absorbing watch and highlights how ambition & greed undid a plucky engineer-entrepreneur’s achievements and eventually ruined his family, members of his company and himself. DeLorean’s failure, legal troubles and bankruptcy left deep scars on his children as we witness in the film. Despite all this DeLorean never gave up his ambition of making another dream car until the day he died in 2005.  

Framing John DeLorean is made in a creative way where the directors blend archival footage with reenactments. For the first few minutes I thought I was watching the trailer of the film since we see different people talking about DeLorean, his influence and why no one has made a film on him so far and how the car came to be featured in Hollywood picture Back To Future.  The film gets very interesting when the directors use a clever way to break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience. Alec Baldwin plays the role of DeLorean and talks to the audience where he examines DeLorean’s motives and  and shares his thoughts on how he wants to play the role. We also get to witness how the makeup artists skillfully craft Baldwin’s face to resemble DeLorean.

DeLorean was a talented & bold engineer who worked in Detroit’s automobile industry. It was his work at General Motors (GM) that got him recognition and fame. He helped develop the hugely successful Pontiac GTO muscle car in the 1960s. That success transformed DeLorean and one of the most obvious changes was in  his physical appearance. He was enamored by the lifestyle of the rich and famous. He resorted to plastic surgery and started exercising and reshaped himself to look like a Hollywood actor. All these changes did not sit well with the senior management at GM.

In 1973 DeLorean was fired from GM. He founded his own company DeLorean Motor Company with an aim to disrupt the American automobile industry. The company produced DMC-12 or DeLorean – an iconic sports car made with steel & fiberglass and  had gull wing doors.  In the process of disrupting the automobile industry he got entangled into drugs that led to legal and money problems and to his eventual downfall. 

Framing John DeLorean takes you through how he got entangled in a $24 million cocaine sting and then got charged for embezzling money from his company that ruined him, his family and those who worked for him. The iconic DMC-12 was a central part of Back To The Future and fans of the film loved the car. But the DMC-12 evokes unhappy memories and bitter emotions for DeLorean’s children, especially his son who was a teenager when he witnessed his family’s life being ruined. Sometimes disruption to an industry comes at a steep personal price to an entrepreneur’s family and that is a facet that we hardly get to see or hear. DeLorean was a good and loving father his daughter shares in the film, but that does erase all the turmoil and scars that his actions left on her brother and her.

The directors of Framing John DeLorean use creative ways to frame and share the story of DeLorean and kindle your curiosity to go and find out more about DeLorean.

Framing John DeLorean released June 7, 2019 in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is also available on VOD on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu and Xbox.

Photo courtesy: IFC Films