A solid if, given its subject, oddly workmanlike documentary, this makes a very good case both that the fashion world had a genius on its hands, and that they didn’t have a clue what to do with him.
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McQueen is a haunting story of extravagant talent and inescapable private sorrow, made with exquisite craftsmanship worthy of its subject. While a narrative biopic has been in development for years, this excellent documentary delivers an eye-popping, emotionally wrenching experience that paints a fully dimensional portrait of a complex artist.
As Ian Bonhôte's documentary reveals, Alexander McQueen's suicide was perhaps the all-too-predictable ending to a history of violence.
Thanks to a beautifully lush, moody score by Michael Nyman and great sound editing, even a fan who has pored over these archives obsessively will see them in a new light. What McQueen reminds those obsessives and laypeople alike is that fashion is an incredibly emotional art form, and McQueen’s work was some of the most moving there was or ever will be.
Itself crafted with great artistry and ingenuity, McQueen works both as a spectacular visual album of his work and an achingly moving account of the incomplete life behind it.
Directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s smartest tactic — the one that makes McQueen such a pleasure to watch, even for fashion outsiders — is giving viewers a front-row seat to the runway, then letting us judge the designer’s oeuvre for ourselves.
The filmmakers’ emphasis on drama honors the driven personality of their subject, while tracing a fairly conventional glad-rags-to-riches narrative arc.
A film that’s refreshingly free of the gushing sound bites from sycophantic celebrities that too often dominate fashion documentaries.
The difference between McQueen and the standard tortured genius documentary lies in the kind of artist McQueen was: Behind the (sometimes incendiary, sometimes infantile) provocations in his designs was a clear humanity, his garments the unfiltered expressions of his emotions and ideas.
Like McQueen’s designs, it is thrilling, troubling and tinged with tragedy.