Catwalk

on February 16, 1996 by Sean O
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"We have plenty of time to think, because we don't have any responsibilities," says Italian knockout Carla Bruni in director Robert Leacock's fashion documentary "Catwalk." But, if Leacock's aim was to prove that, contrary to popular perception, supermodels are a hidden repository of wit and wisdom, then he has failed miserably. If, however, Leacock set out to make a real-life high-fashion "Spinal Tap," a knowing expose of the vacuous nonsense that makes up the life of a model, then he has succeeded quite admirably.
   One might look on "Catwalk" a little more favorably than it deserves just for its pure camp value, but the problem is that Leacock doesn't seem to be in on the joke. He doesn't seem engaged on a creative level, either. The film vacillates between black-and-white and color with no discernable rationale (other than simple-minded contrast), and it seems to have no point of view editorially. All it does for more than 90 minutes is follow supermodel Christy Turlington around from fittings to photo shoots to makeup sessions to fashion shows to (boring) disco after-parties, as if the sheer fabulousness of Turlington and her compatriots would be enough to keep the cake-eating masses entertained. It's not.
   Bruni's quote also makes explicit Leacock's central problem: his choice of subject matter. Models are finally nothing but walking mannequins, after all, and whereas Douglas Keeve's vastly superior "Unzipped" via Miramax had some underlying drama--would Isaac Mizrahi's spring collection succeed?--"Catwalk" concerns itself with a well-paid bunch of hired hands who have no stake in any of the proceedings.
   That said, "Catwalk" is worth a good laugh or two at the very least, and it might make "regular" people feel a bit better about themselves in the process, for it shows star Turlington and her best friend, fellow uber-model Naomi Campbell, to be emotionally arrested in their mid-teens (not coincidentally, the age at which they entered this milieu) and the world in which they live to be filled with idle wind and unearned pretension. Given that UA is attempting to market its "Showgirls" as a campy midnight movie, exhibitors might consider booking "Catwalk" as the second half of a late-night double bill. Starring Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss. Directed by Robert Leacock. Produced by Sug Villa. An Arrow release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 95 min
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