Review / ‘McQueen’ (M) ***

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THIS documentary mixes interviews and archive footage to tell about the life and achievements of an enfant terrible who bestrode the fashion world like an angry, self-focused colossus before ending it all on the eve of his mother’s funeral in February, 2010, from a combination of a self-administered cocaine overdose and a rope around his neck.

If that strikes you as macabre, wait till you see his creations on screen.

Directors Ian Bonh?te and Peter Ettedgui (who also wrote the script) have paid scant attention to wearables in what their film shows of Alexander McQueen’s oeuvre.

I took a quick squiz at the current McQueen online catalogue. The prices reminded me of PT Barnum’s deathless remark about suckers in the marketplace: “There’s one born every minute”. Others are exploiting his name; we may reasonably wonder whether they have his talent.

The film makes only passing reference to the British designer’s output for the two fashion houses where he worked – Givenchy and Gucci – before establishing his own label. Its main focus is the spectacular showings of collections, theatrical experiences rather than a foray into the marketplace. Many of the garments look as though their proper place would be in museum displays of theatrical costumes. Certainly, most of them look uncomfortable and even impractical. Let’s face it, women confront different issues from men in arranging clothes to perform natural functions. And while it may be acceptable for women to bare their breasts to varying extents on catwalk, stage or screen, it’s still infra dig to do it in the audience.

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen… an enfant terrible who bestrode the fashion world like an angry, self-focused colossus

Is “McQueen” a film made to please the general audience? Perhaps not. Death, human skulls, blood and cruelty occur frequently. Live footage passages showing interviews with friends and family speak about a man whose life came to us only through exposure in upper-class media.

His powerfully novel visual creative initiatives were often tortured. The film does us a service by showing to all what on their day would have been available only to (very) well-heeled folk to whom invitations were sent and whose purses, or their partners’ wallets, were fat enough to pay the fare. Having heard of him, we move on to other matters more relevant in our lives.

The film delivers a portrait of a man whom few would care to meet and with whom we would share little.

At Palace Electric

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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