Title: Fashionista (Fantasia 2017 review)

Also known as:

Year: 2016

Genre: Thriller / Mystery / Drama

Language: English

Runtime: 110 min

Director: Simon Rumley

Writer: Simon Rumley

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5667052/

The couple April and Eric are running a Bohemian fashion clothing store, and their entire apartment is filled with clothing laying around everywhere. The clothes have become an important part of their lives, and they are April's way of expressing herself. When she discovers that Eric is cheating on her, she gets rid of all the clothes in a fit of rage, and begins to date a mysterious rich man who forces her to change her fashion style completely. As she gets to know him more, she also finds out about his depraved games...

Our thoughts:
British filmmaker Simon Rumley became known to horror fans with the release of his first horror movie "The Living and the Dead", but it was with the following feature "Red White & Blue" that people started to take notice for real. For someone with a fairly small filmography he has successfully made us aware of who he is, and now more than ever does he have a chance to get seen. Not only is "Fashionista" released this year, he has also directed two other films (the already released "Johnny Frank Garrett's Last Word" and the upcoming "Crowhurst"). "Fashionista" played Fantasia International Film Festival this year, which is a very appropriate place for Simon Rumley to show his Nicolas Roeg.

This fashion-infused psycho-thriller is about a couple, April and Eric, that run a clothing store. April is obsessed with the funky, Bohemian-esque style of clothing, so much so that they live in an apartment where the clothing takes more space than they do themselves. They have so much clothes, in so many different styles, that April can always find a way to express herself through the fashion. When cracks begin to show in the relationship, and April finds out that Eric has been cheating on her with a girl that works in the store, she not only confronts him about it; she burns all the pieces of clothing from their apartment. Soon she meets Randall, the complete opposite of Eric. He's wealthy and sharp-dressed. His modernist house is clean and neat. Most importantly, his girls have to dress as fancy as he does, so April are forced to get out of her comforting wardrobe and buy new clothing. With her new lifestyle also comes new secrets, as Randall invites her to be part of one of his orgies. It all goes south from here.

"Fashionista" enjoys keeping you guessing from the get-go. It has a slow start to introduce April and Eric's relationship, their store, their very messy apartment, and the obsession with clothing, but it all seems so calm and quiet. Slowly the movie unfolds itself with non-linear progression, and it successfully builds up our interest. Though the main story is told more conventionally, we often get glimpses of what has happened and what will happen. This ends up being the strongest component to keeping our curiosity piqued.

While I appreciate what "Fashionista" is and how it presents itself, there are some things that keep it from being great. There is something sloppy about the execution that I don't think was intended. It has all the pieces to be a hypnotic and meaningful portrayal of our insecurities and obsessions, yet it only feels like the movie is telling me these things without making me feel them. I can't make out where the problem actually lies but there must be an important ingredient missing here. As curious as I was to see this unfold, there was never a real payoff. It was mostly just connecting the dots. Maybe there were better ways to show April's pathological interest in fashion and how it's connected to her well-being? It's frustrating that I can't wrap my head around my issues here, but take that however you like. It's either a problem with the movie, or simply a case of a movie not working for me personally, but it can't be a coincidence that this mirrors my opinion on "Red White & Blue" as well.

No matter my opinion on the movie overall, I can't deny the solid cast. Amanda Fuller as April definitely goes for a bold portrayal here. You can tell that she doesn't care about getting into a role to really show the ugly, dirty sides. Ethan Embry as her cheating husband Eric, is somehow our steadiest hand here. Embry manages to bring out a sympathetic character out of someone that our main character has every right to hate for cheating on her. Eric Balfour as the sleazy rich guy just needs to take one step into the shot to tell us exactly what we can expect from the character. What else do you need from them?

There are things that I admire about "Fashionista", and it is no doubt a solid movie. I can't bring myself to call this bad. However, I feel like an outsider looking in when I hear other people's opinions, because to me there was something vital missing in making this all it could be. The story has so much going for it and it keeps us curious by jumping back and forth in the timeline. It's very easy to make a movie non-linear, but it's hard to keep that important, which Simon Rumley succeeded with here. Beyond that, there isn't much that stood out to me. The issues that I have with the movie are not entirely clear, but considering I have felt the same way about the filmmaker's work in the past, there might just be something that he does that doesn't connect well with me.

Positive things:
- The non-linearity works in its favor.
- Great cast portraying very distinct personalities.
Negative things:
- The ideas are better than the execution.
- I realise now that Simon Rumley's work doesn't resonate with me.
- Much of the movie is quite ugly in terms of color correction and white balance.

Gore: 1/5
Nudity: 1/5
Story: 2.5/5
Effects: 2.5/5
Comedy: 0.5/5

We watched this movie thanks to:
Fantasia International Film Festival 2017

Reviewed by:


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