Fashionista Review: A young woman’s obsession with clothes take her to some very dark places in this twisty thriller from director Simon Rumley.
Fashionista, a film currently on the festival circuit, offers a dark and tormented take on addiction. Rather than the usual alcohol or drugs, we have clothes. Clothes? You ask… yes, clothes. Many women, and men, have an unhealthy obsession with fashion, and whilst not seen to be as damaging as the like of drugs or drink, any addiction is bad for us.
April (Amanda Fuller) and her husband Eric (Ethan Embry) run a vintage clothing store. The job is perfect for April as she has a strong affinity for fashion, and a passion for clothing. As events unfold, which cause April to spiral, she finds herself using clothing as an extreme emotional crutch, the addiction taking her down a dangerous path with mysterious stranger Randall (Eric Balfour).
The movie starts off in the usual manner, but soon morphs into something dark, exotic and entrancing. Every time you think you’ve got Fashionista sussed, it surprises you, right up until the end when events suddenly zig instead of zag. It’s a remarkable feat in this day and age. Director Simon Rumley should be commended for his innovation, there’s a distinct lack of originality in films these days and it’s reassuring that there are still people out there brave enough to stand out. You’ll get no spoilers from us, but Fashionista takes you on a weird and wonderfully vicious trip down the rabbit hole.
Entirely living up to it’s name, Fashionista features a LOT of clothes. I can only imagine how long the hours were that Fuller spent getting in and out of new costumes. There are several montages within the film in which Fuller is in new clothes in every shot. Seamlessly stitched together on screen, April may just be doing something as mundane as walking, but her clothing constantly changes. The costuming budget must have been phenomenal! It works though, were April to have no clothes, or God forbid, wear the same thing more than once, you wouldn’t so easily believe in the character.
Amanda Fuller is breath-taking as our heroine April, and gives a stunningly strong and powerful performance. The script requires her to go to some dark places and she handles the scenes as easily as breathing. Similarly, she handles April’s clothing ‘crutch’ in a mature and sophisticated manner. In lesser hands these sequences could become comedic and cheap. She captivates from the opening moments and takes you on one heck of a ride. Also onboard is Fuller’s Starry Eyes co-star, Alex Essoe. In Starry Eyes Essoe played the lead, and Fuller the lead’s BFF; here the roles are, in a way reversed, this is a film all about Fuller’s April, with Essoe on hand to support. The manner in which she is woven into the film makes it almost feel like Essoe is haunting the film. It’s an odd sensation but, in a film like this, not out of the ordinary.
Although Fashionista is all about the females, there are also great turns from Ethan Embry and Eric Balfour. Embry plays April’s rat of a husband, but despite his bad actions, draws a surprising amount of empathy. Balfour, an actor who in my opnion is criminally underused in the film world, plays arguably the darkest role in the film. I’ve not seen or read any of Fifty Shades of Grey, but I have a feeling that Balfour’s Randall could give Christian Grey a run for his money.
Led by a compelling and powerful performance from Fuller, Fashionista is an enthralling and oddly sensual thriller. Dark, dangerous and dreamlike, Fashionista has one hell of a dark heart and wears it proudly on it’s, very fashionable, sleeve.
Fashionista review by Kat Hughes, July 2017
Fashionista is currently playing at the Fantasia International Film Festival.