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Louis Theroux: Under the Knife (2007)

Louis Theroux gets under the skin of the plastic surgery patients of Beverly Hills.

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Louis Theroux gets under the skin of the plastic surgery patients of Beverly Hills.

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7 October 2007 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Луи Теру: Лечь под нож  »

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Follows Louis Theroux: Gambling in Las Vegas (2007) See more »

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Engaging but not as sharp and insightful as Theroux at his best
18 November 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Louis Theroux travels out to Los Angeles to check out the world of plastic surgery, where breast enhancements, tummy tucks, muscle implants and the like are common procedures. Spending time in the surgeries of several plastic surgeons, Louis meets the doctors who carry out the operations and the people who feel they need work – whether it is a man looking to make his muscles look larger or a woman preparing to undergo surgery as part of improving her life. On this occasion though, Louis also undergoes a procedure himself to experience it firsthand.

If anyone else decided to have surgery as part of a film about plastic surgery I would be very cynical and assume the worst but I think Louis Theroux is unlikely to be accused of cheap tricks or gimmicks. Mostly he does a good job of getting in with his subjects and bringing them out in front of the cameras; one could accuse him of manipulating them perhaps but I think that is too harsh a description. Here he does enough away from the gimmick of having liposuction to justify it as quite a small part of the show. The rest is interesting if not fascinating. Naturally the patients make for the most interesting scenes and some of them are curious and quite sad. Some are easy targets but Theroux's soft touch prevents it feeling like he is getting at them.

The downside of this is that he doesn't push or probe too much and he is a little too careful not to push his subjects. This means that his points are gently made and don't so much hit home as affectionately tap home. His operation is interesting but it is little more than a gimmick; in the defence of the gimmick though, it isn't really used that much within the film and it is certainly not the whole reason for the film existing – I'm not really even sure why he did it.

Overall then this is not the best Louis Theroux has done because it is a bit softer than some of his other films but it is still engaging. The easy targets are hit but softly and, while I understand the way he holds back with people like Laura, I would have appreciated him to do a little more probing with some of the subjects.


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