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From the Fantasia International Film Festival: Consumerism lies the centre of this mix of mystery and thriller. Fashionista takes you into a world of addiction, sex and rock and roll. Simon Rumley directs and writes this film nonlinearly, making it an experimental and unique yet also incredibly independent. It makes the audience work hard to piece it all together throughout and draw their own conclusions. The majority of it makes sense and the final act will generally resolve most of your suspicions, though it paints a message about consumerism and the addiction of one person possibly in an irrational way. Rumley does a great job capturing these emotions using highly-artistic shots.
Amanda Fuller is April, a woman who lives a dream of owning a vintage clothes shop with her husband, Eric (Ethan Embry). She loves clothes and is addicted to its touch and fabric. She goes through many outfits throughout the movie, perhaps more than a hundred, and Fuller embodies April with great believability, showing us her addiction as April’s life falls apart. Her behavior shifts with every scene, especially as she finds out that her husband is having an affair. This pops her into another phase, one that enters rich bad boy Randall (Eric Balfour) who takes her for another trip filled with sex. Of course, all this is jumbled in presentation, as the film presents only snippets of Randall in the first act and makes us wonder what his whole deal is.
However, Fashionista does fall short with a less than engaging first act. It takes a long time and spends a little too much effort emphasizing the marriage breakup. Perhaps it is to make sure we connect with April more to feel her pain and her reliance and release with her clothes as she has almost orgasmic reactions when she is with them. It creates a mesmerizing snapshot yet it is done a little too much. Some parts of the slow first act could’ve been cut down to make this a more compact experience. The injection of a mysterious woman, played by Alex Essoe, is delightfully short but enough to make us wonder her connection to the rest of the fragments that doesn’t seem to go together. Fashionista truly picks up though as Balfour enters and takes us on another journey, teasing the mystery until the last piece falls into place.
Rock and roll music is a cornerstone of Fashionista, with carefully-selected music that transitions us from one scene to the next or highlighting a certain event or moment. However, these moments can be overpowering. Perhaps it is to make sure it overwhelms to emphasize the emotions and become more involved with the story. Unfortunately, even a few moments in, I wished that I were watching at home and could turn it down. One wonders whether if the movie could voice its story better and be more thrilling and experience using silence instead.
Fashionista is a unique experience, highlighting an important message about addiction to consumerism. It is worth viewing simply for the fantastic performance from Fuller and its nonlinear storytelling, however, perhaps more suitable as a home experience.
Movie description: Fashionista is a 2016 A woman who uses clothes as an emotional crutch discovers her life isn't as ideal as she thought.
Director(s): Simon Rumley
Actor(s): Amanda Fuller, Ethan Embry, Eric Balfour, Alex Essoe, Jemma Evans, Alexandria DeBerry, Devon Bonnee