Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

USA, 2008.  Acolyte Films.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , Matt Tyrnauer.  Music by .  Film Editing by , .  

Entertaining look at the last of the giant fashion names of yore, whose solitary moniker has come to represent cutting-edge, classy style after decades in the business. The film centres around the preparation of what turned out to be Valentino’s final show, a days-long celebration of the man’s career including a few lavish jet-set-attended parties, followed by the revelation of a brand new collection. Behind the scenes we watch as his business is taken over by a company who seem, surprisingly, to be interested in maintaining the quality of his image. Months after the party, Valentino would announce his retirement, as would his longtime life and business partner Giancarlo Giammetti, both of them relinquishing their control in the company and sailing off to a very happy late-life respite. Relaxed is actually the word for this unenthusiastic documentary, one sadly bereft of any of the kinds of the conflict that make for the best in the genre: the takeover of Valentino’s business seems to go smoothly and without much drama from the subject, while any significant glimpse of his personal life is rendered pointless by the constant tantrums he throws in objection to being filmed.  This one’s right up there with The September Issue as docs about subjects who exert far too much control over how they are perceived by the public and as a result produce little more insight into their life than we already knew before watching it.  Enthusiasts will get a lot out of what is presented, particularly the scenes of watching him actually create his stunning clothing, and fashion shows always make for wonderful viewing on the big screen, but you’ll learn more from The Devil Wears Prada (hell, you’ll learn more from Ready To Wear).

Toronto International Film Festival:  2008

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