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Warning you about crappy movies since 2008.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Valentino: The Last Emperor

I don't think you have to be a fashionista or style watcher to enjoy this documentary about the life and career of designer Valentino. After all, I enjoyed it.

It's about equal parts love story, Project Runway and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Valentino may be a genius, but he has the temperament and prickliness that often accompanies it. Giancarlo -- his partner in business and love -- has fussed over him, suffered under him, tolerated him and adored him for 45 years. They quibble like the old, married couple they are, but it is evident throughout the film that each man couldn't make do without the other.

The movie follows Valentino and Giancarlo as they prepare for what seems to be the fashion show to end all fashion shows. Talk abounds of Valentino's potential retirement from a business (and an art form) he loves and helped create. Such talk is clearly upsetting to both men, yet they endure those questions from media and fans at every turn.

It's fascinating to watch Valentino sketch, drape and create one masterpiece after another. While Valentino attends to the clothes, Giancarlo attends to everything else. He conceived of and designed the set for the big extravaganza in Rome that may or may not be the swan song for the designer. The camera catches him whispering to Valentino as they enter an event to honor the more famous of the duo: "Don't forget to thank everyone for coming. Oh, and your secretary's son just graduated from college."

The rich, famous and impossibly thin people Valentino surrounds himself with are on parade here. Peeking in on such an extravagant life -- where the five pampered pugs live better than most humans do -- is a guilty pleasure. But, the filmmaker never lets us forget that this is, under all the glamor, snark and sequins, a deeply felt love story. See it.

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