Overview: They are the glamorous and famous but, why are they? Is that what this documentary is going to answer for us? According to the press release for this film, the final documentary in the summer series, ABOUT FACE explores the lives and careers of legendary models, highlighting the complex relationship between physical appearance and the business of beauty. It maps the ways the modeling business has changed, and remained the same, through the decades. It uses the testament of over a dozen models to achieve this goal.
Expectations: The info I have read about this piece also says that this documentary is an examination of the underlying truths of the modeling industry. Though interviews with various models about how they started out and how they felt about their job, may prove interesting I expect this film to go more in depth. I hope to hear more about the dark issues surrounding the modeling scene. I hope for a good debate about how our society treats aging, beauty, objectification, and the effects that has had on these women today.
After all, to me, the title of this film has a double meaning. First, the words “About Face” mean that what these women did for a living is all about the face. It is all about the youthful look, the smoky-eyed glance and the vitality. It is the beauty that sells. But, to me, whether it is intentional or just something I am reading into it the words “About Face” also refers to the fact that these models, now older, are now out of favor and possibly less beautiful than before. They are in the position of having to save face, to still feel vital and important. They really don’t have to worry about saving face but, since our culture places such value on beauty and youthfulness it may seem a necessity to them to do so.
Gut Reaction: Upon watching the documentary I was left wanting. It was a well paced and interesting piece but it did not meet my expectations in the end. The anecdotes of the ladies making it in the industry were fine but the words that captured me most came from Isabella Rosseilini and Paulina Porizkova. Again, I was looking more of a balance between stories of their lives with the issues with the industry, which is why what those two ladies had to say held my attention more than others. It wasn’t until 25 minutes into the piece that some of the hot topics were addressed. I remember one line of Porizkova’s that went “What people called sexual harassment we called compliments.” A few comments like that were made but they were a few sentences scattered here and there in between the more trivial banter. I guess I was hoping for more sensationalism or a look at the harsher side of the industry then the historical trip we were offered.
In Conclusion: It was not a bad film by any means but, the press release and other comments alluded to a more detailed look at the industry than given. All these models offered an interesting look into their lives and what it means to them today to be older women of beauty.
In Conclusion about the Summer Documentary Series: It has been a fun and intriguing experience for me as a Staff writer for HBOWatch to give my gut reaction responses to each of these eight (8) films in this series. We here will try to keep you informed of other documentary films coming to HBO in the future. If and whenever you catch one of the reviewed documentaries on HBO or HBOGo feel free to comment here at HBOWatch. I and others will be happy to talk about each and every one of them.