Play Pause

Friday, 17 February 2017

Retro Review: Pret- A- Porter (1994)

Cast: Sophia Loren, Kim Basinger, Lauren Bacall, Julia Roberts, Tim Robbins, Lili Taylor, Tracy Ullman, Rupert Everett, Forest Whitaker, Richard E. Grant
Genre: Satirical Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $11.3 million 

Plot: A chronicle of the interconnected lives of a group of people in the lead up to Paris Fashion Week

'Robert Altman's Lengthy -Yet Tedious Direction Renders Pret-A-Porter More Like Pret-A-Mange'

2 hours of extremely and consistently unfunny, and its idea of funny is uttering the F-word and dialogue that is supposedly and intentionally funny, despite its stellar cast, Pret-A-Porter is just an excuse for the likes of Julia Roberts and Tim Robbins to star in a monotonous film about the fashion industry and to collect their paycheque. The only other Robert Altman film I've heard of and seen of his, was his version of Popeye with Robin Williams, back in 1980. And a film that other than Robin's portrayal as Popeye was unexciting and a bore. What should have been an exciting adventure type film, turned into unnecessary musical of epic proportions. 

& sadly again, neither did he deliver with Pret-A-Porter.

Almost all the main stars are clearly wasted: Kim Basinger plays a reporter with a very strange Southern Accent that will grate on some people, Forest Whitaker is the stereotyped gay fashion designer, who really plays it over the top that it becomes a caricature. Julia Roberts (in an equally wasted role) plays a reporter from the Houston Chronicle, Anne Eisenhower and she shacks up with Joe's Tim Robbins in an unnecessary and disposable sex scene that is unimportant and added nothing to the plot. If that was Altman's main reason for having Julia in the film, in the sex scene and as mere eye candy, well that didn't make that much of an impact as the film still flopped, anyway. Given her incredibly huge star status at the time of the early 1990s, one would assume Julia Roberts would play a huge role in Pret-A-Porter, but nope. & her character wasn't much to write home about. Loved Richard E. Grant in Jack & Sarah - here not so much as the camp designer, whose partner is played by Forest Whitaker. It's truly disappointing that though there are so many stars in this film, the film itself became so worse, the longer it went on, I thought 'that's it, enough'. 

As a comedy, I was sitting through this film with a straight face; this is nothing but a bunch of vignettes that are as unfunny, boring and bland as watching paint dry. The direction is mundane and so unappealing and though the film tries to offer a critical perspective on the fashion industry, it all comes to practically nothing. Who are the central characters in this film and why didn't Altman build the story around them and develop it further? 

The makers of this film will dismiss all the criticism and constructive negative reviews by means that us, the general public, just didn't and don't get it. If Pret-A-Porter had been as highly entertaining, amusing and camp as the first season of Ugly Betty, then this film would have been a bigger success, as opposed to a humongous failure.  

This so-called satire lacks focus and a central theme in which to base the film around its characters. The characters themselves are saying one thing and then saying another thing, we have one scene where something happens, only to switch to another scene and so forth. As multilayered as the plot is, every element has one farcical storyline. In fact, there is no proper story, no narrative structure, this inter-cut multi-story approach might have also worked, had the scenes themselves been entertaining. But alas, they are not. The acting and performances are not terrific, and this isn't helped by the stale script and dialogue. 

The audience has no sincere relationship with the characters and can't really relate to any of them because almost each of them lacks personality. Plus, the film lacks drive and energy to not only keep it going but to maintain audience enthusiasm and interest throughout. 

Pret-A-Porter also disappoints as it seeks to spoof the fashion industry, whilst playing on stereotypes and caricatures - yet the film's tone and approach alienate general audiences. If you want better examples that do not do this, take a look at Absolutely Fabulous or the first season of Ugly Betty.  

The only other positive thing about this film is the Ini Kamoze song, 'Here Comes The Hotstepper', which is taken from Pret-A-Porter's motion picture soundtrack; alas, I'd rather listen to that song than sit through the entirety of this, at times, overblown bore-fest. 


Pros +

- Interesting to see so many famous faces 

- The model's clothes

- The soundtrack


- Lacklustre direction from Robert Altman

- Sheer boredom and tedium 

- Film lacks focus, energy and a central theme 

- No story, no narrative structure - just random conversations that lead to nothing 

- You can't relate to any of the characters, whatsoever 

- Painfully contrived and unfunny for a so-called comedy 

- Boring script and at times inane dialogue 

- Tone of the film is off-putting and alienates general audiences 

Final Verdict:

Pret-A-Porter is a total bomb of a film that is made worse by the fact that despite an all-star billing, it is overburdened with such a wretched and laborious script where the actors are reduced to small talk and is a film that seemingly goes on forever, and with scenes that not only not interconnect with one another, but they also lack sufficiency, meaning, excitement and humour. The characters are so pretentious & vapid, thus wallowing in their own drivel. 

This is nothing but a bunch of lengthy scenes tacked on next to one another, with no real context given to the actual story. Going for 2 hours, I had enough and gave up completely after the first hour. 

That so-called intentional comedy that Robert Altman was harping on and on about, isn't that funny and barely raised a chuckle from me. Almost unwatchable, completely monotonous & intolerable and with virtually no message whatsoever, Pret-A-Porter is disastrous with a capital 'D' and with terrible and uninspiring direction, it is undoubtedly one of the most boring, as well as dire films I've watched. A case where big-star A-list names do not always determine how successful a film is: but also the concept, the idea, the direction has to capture one's eye.

Pret-A-Porter, sadly, does not have all these things and understandably, it became an incredibly bland turkey and one without all the trimmings. & further proof that Popeye just wasn't a one-off when it comes to movie duds for Altman. 


No comments:

Post a comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...