Reviewed by: George Williamson

Frankie's life as a model is almost over; she's "a coat hanger that is about to be retired." The incessant flashgun blasts have blown back her skin and cauterised her being, leaving her empty, soon to fall, shrivelled and faded, from the limelight.

Her story is told in tandem, split between a narrative, set in a mental hospital, and flashbacks from earlier in her career. Before the fall, she lives the life of a busy model, being driven from photo shoot to photo shoot, from set to set, a glorious mannequin upon which to display clothes. She's 26 - almost ancient - and the pressures and pain of being super thin and the exasperation of being manipulated like a dumb catwalk animal cuts into her. In the sanatorium she appears vacant, a shed husk of her former self, denied all contact with her old life. The two threads slowly and inevitably wind towards the breakdown where the two faces of Frankie connect.

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Fabienne Berthaud's film meanders between dissonant, ethereal scenes in the sanatorium and the frenetic action of a photographer's studios, where Frankie (Diane Kruger) is slowly bled dry, each picture visibly draining her. The contrast between these two worlds is absolute; the elaborate costumes and intricate makeup from her glamorous life are replaced by simple white clothes and a scrubbed clean face.

The chain smoking, anorexic Frankie is traumatising to look at and the ugliness of fashionably thin, beautiful models clear and sickening. The interleaved scenes of a demeaning photographer snapping away and of Frankie feeding pigs gives a further indication of the prostitution of image that was her life.

This is an insiders take; Kruger formerly worked as a model - the film was shot over three years at the end of her career - which clearly inspired her stunning performance.

Forget the glamour, this is the dark heart of the fashion industry, bared for all to see.

Reviewed on: 21 Aug 2005
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A fashion model crumbles beneath the incessant pressure of an ugly industry.
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Director: Fabienne Berthaud

Writer: Fabienne Berthaud

Starring: Diane Kruger, Jeanick Gravelines, Christian Wiggert, J Alexander, Brigitte Catillon, Gerald Marie, Jean Louis Place, Claude Jean Girard, Sylvia Hoecks, Alexander Schwab

Year: 2005

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: France


EIFF 2005

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