Fashionista : Fantasia Film Festival Review
We are never truly aware how everyone else in the world views us. Moreover, we are never really aware, or for the better sense of the word – satisfied, with how we view ourselves. Dissatisfaction brings insecurities and insecurities pave way for insanity & eventual self-destruction. Simon Rumley’s “Fashionista” is about those insecurities. An alluring, ambitious & wildly experimental film about obsession and addiction. A film that will make you think twice before you decide to buy new clothes the next time around.
Set in Austin, Texas, the film is about April (Amanda Fuller) and Eric (Ethan Embry). The bohemian couple owns a two-tier vintage clothing store that is also their humble abode. Their house is packed with clothes, most of which belong to April. Her obsession with clothes is evident when we see her dreaming about the perfect combination of skirt and top to be worn the next day. She gets agitated when she is unable to find them in the mess. Things seem quite alright with every wardrobe change and sexual satisfaction. That is until a new girl comes to work for them in the store. While the Business is alright, the relationship isn’t quite the same anymore.
April smells infidelity as Eric hasn’t been showing the least bit of interest in her. Maybe it’s her new range of clothing? Maybe it’s the new girl in the store? Maybe she is not attractive anymore? April is traumatized by demons that don’t even exist. She keeps changing clothes to give herself satisfaction and the belief that Eric is still pretty much in love with her. Her suspicion grows stronger until she simply can’t take it anymore. Also in the mix is a strange woman who checks herself out of a sort of mental health facility. How does she fit in this tale of fear, obsession, and sexuality? A strange, rich, Casanova by the name Randell (Eric Balfour) comes into the mix when April decides to burn her current life to the ground and starting a fresh.
As weird sex fetishes, new clothes and memories flash around April, she loses her mind even further. The film, which is dedicated to the UK cult-filmmaker Nicolas Roeg (know for “Don’t Look Now”) submerges into a dance of madness. The slick editing which shows flash-forwards and backwards gives a sense of non-linear narrative which confuses the audience. Simon Rumley who has in recent years emerged as a cult-filmmaker himself (mostly thanks to midnight screening audiences) seems to have a bigger ambition with his latest outing. While he sells his film as a genre fair that lies somewhere between psychological horror & an intense experimental thriller, he has deeper things to say.
When the narratives that deal with April & Eric, Randell & April & the strange girl at the health centre come together, Rumley’s film becomes an intense exploration of self-doubt with the eventual descent into addiction and obsession. The kind that no more makes you believes that the person inside you is really you. Shuffling the narrative around with razor sharp editing sequences of April sniffing onto her clothes & fabric might sound totally bewildering to a larger audience. But to a certain specific section of people, it will be an immensely immersive and breathtaking experience.
Simon Rumley’s film-making shows a flare of complete control over each frame. There are times when the film feels messy and convoluted, revoking dark Lynchian connections. But the use of ambient music and lateral juxtaposition of imagery makes this psychological tale even more tangible and alluring. Amanda Fuller is on fire in “Fashionista.” Her character and her decisions seem as confusing to her as they do to the audience. She completely dissolves herself in April. As a woman who is reaching a stage where her identity becomes a big question mark, “Fashionista” makes her go through more darker things. Will she come out of the darkness? Well, that depends on the latest fashion trend, I guess.