The journalist and author Joan Didion opens up about her experiences as a prominent writer during and after a time (the 1960s) that is known for its rebellious chaos, embrace of the avant-garde, the revelation of rock music, the ideals of peace and love, and much more.
Joan Didion allows her nephew, Griffin Dunne, to interview her on the events of her life as a writer in a documentary entitled “The Center Will Not Hold.” Throughout the documentary, Didion and her nephew talk through her life in chronological order. They briefly touch on the beginning of her career, including her move from California to New York City to work for “Vogue” magazine.
The documentary gives its insight on not only Didion’s life, but her personality. Didion is displayed as a woman who has encountered much of American culture, as well as hurt in her personal life. They talk through some of the confusion she felt towards the 60s and her inability to fully grasp the dynamics of the world around her. Dunne uses verbal excerpts from her writings (such as “The White Album,” “Play It As It Lays,” “On Self Respect,” etc.) to demonstrate the relation between her writings and her life. The documentary also touches on some of Didion’s previous interviews including those with Linda Kasabian (a former member of the Manson family) to “The Doors” (a 1960’s rock band).
Didion expresses an honest vulnerability in parts of the documentary. She speaks about the struggles that she and her fellow writer and husband John Gregory Dunne experienced within their marriage, the eventual death of her husband and shortly thereafter the death of her daughter Quintana Dunne, her struggle with disorder, and the ways that she is coping with that loss. Overall, the documentary gives its audience a clear, intriguing look at 82-year-old Joan Didion’s life, which has been nothing short of eventful.