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Disturbing documentary, but leaves a lot of questions unanswered
[...]The film is obviously dark and upsetting, but it left me with so many unanswered questions. Perhaps in our age of America's Next Top Model, the directors expected a certain base understanding of the modeling industry, but I could have used some more guidance. I would have appreciated a narrator or on-screen captions saying things like "This is a recruiter. It is the recruiter's job to " or "Nadya is now auditioning for " Maybe I just have a way below average understanding of modeling, but the whole time I kept asking myself very basic questions that could have been easily explained, and would have made for a much more educational film.
Additionally, the filmmakers failed to elaborate on certain themes that were mentioned in passing, often by Ashley (who was an utter enigma as a character, hovering between denial and insanity). Themes like prostitution and sex trafficking, and illegal underage models. These are issues that could use some unpacking. Ashley would say something like, "We all know that some girls turn to prostitution (though she never even says the word), but I don't have any first-hand evidence of that," and then she would move onto another topic. I think in cases like this, it is the filmmakers role to step in; if not to press Ashley further in the interview than at least to provide the audience with a statistic or something. However, the directors seemed determined to keep the narrative confined to the claustrophobic world of the characters that they were following, leaving the audience to scratch their heads and speculate. Additionally, with no additional information, the viewer is left with no idea about the scope of the problem. Are situations like this the exception or the rule? Are they limited to Japan, or to this one particular agency, or should we now assume that any photograph we see in a fashion magazine has a crying Russian child behind it? What can we do to prevent situations like this? We simply are never given any of the answers.
Girl Model was an engaging and disturbing documentary, though it left me wanting to know more. It showed us the characters and told us their story, but left out a lot of the context necessary to create a holistic understanding. I'll probably end up trying to do some more research about the topic to answer some of the questions that I had, but it would have been nice it the directors had done that work for me.
Read the full review here: http://mattreviewsstuff.com/2012/04/25/girl-model/
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