Models (1999)

ULRICH SEIDL

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

Austria, 1999.  Screenplay by Ulrich Seidl.  Cinematography by , , .  Produced by .  Film Editing by .

Ulrich Seidl’s career-long fascination with exploitation continues as he enlists four women who work in the field of modeling to perform in a fictionalized version of their lives. Relationship troubles, long days of shooting, constant sexual harassment and endless late-night parties are thrown into a miserable mix as the women have ambition to succeed but never seem to know if the compromises are worthwhile. For two long hours we basically watch as these amiable personalities scrape the bottom of society’s barrel, a job that we think of as being so glamorous but is actually another excuse to wear people out for the purposes of our own selfish desires. Seidl is never didactic in his method of exploring this issue, presenting the bad choices with the same cold remove that he presents the good ones, and should be commended for never pretending to describe the grimness of these lives while secretly exploiting them. The film is a hard one to sit through, however, since it rides one dark wavelength the entire time, but the performances are strong and it is admirable even when it isn’t enjoyable.

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