Synopsis

A fashion show in Paris draws the usual bunch of people; designers, reporters, models, magazine editors, photographers. Lots of unconnected stories which all revolve around this show, and an all-star cast.

Director

Robert Altman

Cast

Sophia Loren
as Isabella de la Fontaine
Jean-Pierre Cassel
as Olivier de la Fontaine
Chiara Mastroianni
as Sophie Choiset
Kim Basinger
as Kitty Potter
Stephen Rea
as Milo O'Brannigan
Anouk Aimée
as Simone Lowenthal

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by zetes 7 /10

Unfairly Maligned. Far better than people give it credit for

And that's not saying that it's great either. It is not. But it's tremendously low imdb rating makes me wonder who the heck is voting here. Pret-a-Porter is a pretty good Robert Altman film that is no better or worse than Short Cuts, which, while I feel it is a good film, I also think it is overrated. This one is, however, heavily underrated, and they both got the same imdb score from me: 7/10 = 3/4 stars.

This is another attempt to make another Nashville. There's a humongous ensemble cast of actors, some of the best on the planet, a couple of the best who ever lived. The screenwriter doesn't connect it all very well, and lots of the characters seem superfluous or underdeveloped, unlike in Nashville where even the characters who are only in a couple of scenes are as familiar to the viewer as a close friend. I would particularly have liked the Danny Aiello/Teri Garr section to have been removed. It falls pretty flat. The Sophia Loren/Marcello Mastrioanni section, the section that most film buffs are going to be excited for, also plops by its end. And Kim Basinger, a good actress, truly deserving her L.A. Confidential Oscar, is not very good as the Southern U.S. reporter: her accent is difficult to get around, and her character is often annoying, too. Sometimes, though, her pieces succeed.

Many other of the vignettes succeed quite well, although there are never any fireworks about to shoot off. The Tim Robbins/Julia Roberts plot is very funny. The three publishers, Sally Kellerman, Tracy Ullman, and Linda Hunt's attempts to sign photographer Milo (Stephen Rea) to their magazine are all very humorous. The love quadrangle between the two designers, Forest Whitaker and Richard E. Grant, and their lovers is very good, also. Anouk Aimee's section is also great, maybe the best part (Rupet Everett is good, also). I loved her so much in La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2. I was aching for her and Marcello Mastrioanni to interact.

The ending is truly fantastic. It is very well directed and filmed. It's a good film.

Reviewed by therryns-1 8 /10

What do the critics know?

I am completely baffled at the bad reviews this movie received. Robert Altman apparently shot first and came up with a story board later, and we are the richer for it. Just as the finale of this romp is definitive statement on the putative subject of the ready to wear fashion week,so this movie is a statement on movie making, and the conclusions would appear to be the same. Altman's confidence in dispensing with the conventions of plot, character development, the classic forms of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy jumps off the Eiffel Tower, girl moves in with Godzilla, is as stunning as the final scene. The sheer pleasure of watching Altman's usual suspects perform at the top of their game is enough reason to watch the movie. I will never look at Forest Whitaker and Rupert Everett in the same way. As for Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, blame it all on pasta. And as for the clothes and the people and the sad old boobs of publishers, frosting on the cake. What a complete visual joy!

Reviewed by Geofbob N/A

Altman amusingly strips the fashion industry bare

This is an entertaining spoof built around a Paris fashion week, and was actually filmed during that event. It's a typical Robert Altman film, with multiple story lines, fast cutting from one setup to another, and overlapping soundtracks, which all make it hard to follow at the cinema, and very suitable for rental so it can be replayed. It would take too long even to begin to summarise the subplots and characters, but in addition to a galactically stellar cast; there's a host of guest celebrities, including lots of couturiers; and of course dozens of models on and off the catwalk, in and out of designer clothes, and in the climactic scene without clothes at all.

It is always healthy - both for laughers and laughees - to laugh at powerful people who take themselves too seriously; and by poking fun at the fashion industry and its surrounding media circus, Altman is performing a social service, as well as being a true artist. But I don't find his satire as cruelly biting as some people do. He treats some characters sympathetically or neutrally - eg the designer played by Anouk Aimée and Marcello Mastroianni's mystery figure. And even the extreme characters - eg Richard E Grant's screamingly gay designer or Kim Basinger's gushing TV reporter - are only a little more exaggerated than some real-life equivalents.

The final nude catwalk parade is not only a visually delightful and neat solution to the problem of a designer having lost her collection; but is also a postmodern take on the fairytale of the emperor's new clothes - nowadays, the crooks wouldn't have to pretend they were making clothes for the vain emperor, but would be able to sell him nudity, so long as it had a trendy designer label!

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