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April 19, 2010 | by  | in Film |
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Picture Me: A Model’s Diary

As today’s burden for beauty gets heavier and the weight of models gets lighter, society’s cry for substance and value gets louder. Unsatisfied with its aloof elitism, audiences are now calling for the fashion industry to disrobe their layers of silk, satin and superficiality and uncover the reality that lies beneath the gloss of magazine pages, fabric of designer clothing, and impassive expressions of model faces. On the tail of last year’s anonymous blogging model, and the chic chronicle of Vogue’s Spring issue, comes Picture Me: A Model’s Diary, a documentary continuing today’s trend of looking beyond the façade of the fashion world.

From castings and catwalk shows, to intimate interviews at models’ homes, model Sara Ziff and boyfriend Ole intelligently question, acknowledge and expose the reality of the fashion industry in this telling documentary. The juxtaposition between gaining great experience, friends, and sums of money; and losing identity, education and energy to the industry makes up a spectrum that is engagingly tackled in this film, and the models’ concerned and educated opinions are a pleasing antithesis to their stereotype of unintelligence. Sex, scandal and manipulation are exposed as the darker underbelly of the industry, further contributing to this insightful illustration of how every gain in fame and fortune is paralleled by a reality of sacrifice and uncertainty for the young women.

Ziff’s open-minded and probing personality shines on screen and her exhaustive commitment to her career is appropriately captured and deserving of respect. But strong and assertive, even Ziff crumbles at the pressure of her job, and the scenes of her crying in the bath (despite an awkward, lingering camera shot of her breast) present a vulnerability that resonates strongly.

Refreshingly, the film doesn’t come off as a simulated attempt to grasp the ‘big’ issues, but as a subtle enquiry into the elements of unease and tension that exist within the modelling world. An honest and fair examination, Picture Me: A Model’s Diary will satisfy both the fashion buff who enjoyed Valentino’s documentary, and the feminist cynic calling out for a sense of reality in the coiffed, cashmere world of modelling. And complete with a couple of bath scenes and a bevy of beautiful ladies, the film may even appeal to their boyfriends too.

Directed by: Ole Schell and Sara Ziff

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