Monday, 19 April 2010

A Single Man, I Am Love: A New Film Genre?

Fashion is about surface. That's why it is easy to understand. It has no interior monologue.

It strikes me that we have a new manifestation of fashion surface standing between us and reality: films that seem to have as their main point an emphasis on appearance above all else. Flowers, buildings and, especially, clothes are lovingly portrayed: I begin to wonder if we are on the verge of a whole new genre that could be called The Fashion Film - not a film about fashion, but a film made with the same surface obsessions that occupy fashion magazines and their stylists and art directors.

A Single Man
by fashion supremo Tom Ford was praised for its perfect but very mannered mis en scene, in which every shot seemed to have been contrived to have the unreal glamour and high-gloss perfection of a publicity campaign for a men's cologne. Now we have the film I Am Love by Tilda Swinton (another fashion figure in many ways), which again seems to elevate the photography way above the realities of plot and acting, as if it had been styled rather than directed. It is beautiful to watch but in a very seventies way. What makes me think we may be on the verge of a new visual approach is the praise both of these films have received from visually aware movers and shakers, both in and out of the fashion loop.

Are we going back to the seventies, when films like Elvira Madigan, Bo Widerberg's story of doomed love, ravished our visual senses with blurred close-ups of plants and insects as a means of ravishing our spiritual senses? That movie was criticised for suffering from the 'Swedish flaw of tastefulness' - for which read triteness.

Is the fashion film doomed to be as coldly perfect as the average fashion shoot? Does the medium have to be the message?

1 comment:

  1. The fashion film is a perfect description for this new genre of cinema. whose flaw for me lies in its perfection. I felt in A Single Man as if I was watching an extended advertisement for the most opulent aftershave on the market. Its flawlessness was quite unnerving. I felt uncertain as to how to react to something cinematically unparalleled. I am as keen to watch I Am Love but equally apprehensive as to how unsettled I will feel as I leave the cinema. Is it possible for something to be too perfect?