The film is ‘set’ backstage in a fashion show, where unseen work experience boy Michelangelo films and interviews various people involved with the industry, including supermodels Lettuce Leaf (Lily Cole) and Minx (Jude Law, looking like a demented Elizabeth Taylor) and critic Mona Carvell (Judi Dench) amongst many other actors. It is constructed entirely of monologues performed to camera against a green screen background set on a colour. In total there are fourteen different characters- or rather, fourteen different actors, ranging from the quality of Lily Cole up to Judi Dench. Most of the characters barely register if at all- not so much down to the performances but down to writer/director Sally Potter.
The writing is abysmal- to say it is on the level of a student filmmaker would be insulting to students but it does feel like a school project. The clichés are fired out like machine guns: we have the anorexic model, the Eastern European model who has a masculine look (because it’s Jude Law in drag!), the wise weary critic, the young marketing man, the flamboyant designer. It soon becomes apparent that this is not because what Potter wants to say about the fashion world has already been said but because she doesn’t actually have anything to say. The fact that we never see anything from the show, apart from former pizza delivery boy Vijay (Riz Ahmed) painted blue, does not make the film relevant to all eras of fashion as Potter half-thinks it might. It only accentuates the fact that the film has nothing to comment on literally as well as metaphorically.
None of the actors are bad; they simply give the performance they would give if they were doing it on their lunchbreak. Many films have the odd performance that is called in but an entire film of phoned-in performances is a waste of time.
Underlying the film there’s also a sense of arrogance that Potter feels she doesn’t really need to say anything on the fashion industry because we all know it is shallow and exploitative. It’s a well-worn subject and an easy target so Potter may be right but what is the point of making a film about something you don’t care about and have nothing to say on?
The only rage this film induces is the rage that Potter smugly wastes the subject, the actors and the viewers’ time.