Odd Movies: Drop Dead Gorgeous
On the advice of my boss, I tossed the 2010 movie "Drop Dead Gorgeous" into our Netflix DVD queue (I couldn't find it on any of the streaming services that I sub to, and I wasn't going to buy it).
Presented as a "mock-u-mentary" in the vein of Spinal Tap, but a lot rawer, and crossing many lines, it was, to put it charitably, entertaining. It starts off with a bang, the documentary film crew is tasked with the capturing of Cynthia's (a model) shoot for a leading fashion designer Claudio, and it begins a day before in NY, where the camera crew barges into her hotel room where she is naked, in bed with two other women (and is telling the team to cut this part, as her being gay would "kill" her career).
But the shoot is the next day, in LA, and a private jet ride later gives you a glimpse into the lifestyle of a model at her peak (hint - it goes dark, really really dark) and all the usual tropes are trotted out. The bumbling manager cum pimp, the gaffer who also supplies drugs, the cameraman who expects and discusses the gritty raw sex that the models are supposed to have with him. Claudio enters, and makes the classic reference "have you put on weight?" that is expected.
The shoot goes poorly, poor Cynthia is popping pills, and barfing in the bathroom, and finally OD's on the set. Hilariously (I guess) the only people concerned about Cynthia are the camera crew for the documentary team, who call an ambulance (maybe), but Claudio is far more concerned with his dress not being ruined.
Then it gets dark. They realize that a dead model is far easier to work with, no cajoling, no multiple takes, you can position her any way you want. But to be able to work with her post death requires her next of kin to sign a release. So the agent heads off to Cynthia's mothers house and gets the release. I guess the psyche runs deep in the family.
Off to the races with filming and posing a dead model. Sort of a high fashion Weekend at Bernie's.
If you get beyond the ridiculousness of the premise, there are several nuggets about life as a model, at least a tier or two below the elite status, where competition is fierce, shelf life is short, and any and all efforts to extend that shelf life are worthy to take. About the scummy agents, and how booking and placing models is one truly fucked up world.
If you like dark, twisted comedies, this might be your cuppa, but the rawness of the filming is supposedly because of found footage, presented as is, sans editing and production. As someone who works with a serious videographer, I can tell that it falls short of how even very low budget films are made.
I give it a 4.5 out of 10.