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Benedetta wants to disappear. An iconic fashion model in the 1960s, she became a muse to Warhol, Dali, Penn and Avedon. As a radical feminist in the 1970s, she fought for the rights and emancipation of women. But at the age of 75, she becomes fed up with all the roles that life has imposed upon her and decides to leave everything and everybody behind, to disappear to a place as far as possible from the world she knows. Hiding behind the camera, her son Beniamino witnesses her journey. Having filmed her since he was a child in spite of all her resistance, he now wants to make a film about her, to keep her close for as long as possible - or, at least, as long as his camera keeps running. The making of the film turns into a battle between mother and son, a stubborn fight to capture the ultimate image of Benedetta - the image of her liberation.
Begins as a charming and heartwarming love letter from a son to his Italian supermodel mother who made a social impact on the industry, but quickly veers into being a movie about himself and his own lifelong obsession with her. Much of the film feels more like a behind the scenes featurette for the finished product than a completed film.
If the lost privacy of a supermodel who cannot escape the perpetual spotlight of the male gaze is a central theme to the film, then constantly invading her space against her repeated demands to turn off the camera or stop filming only achieves to establish an intrusive and uncomfortable vibe for the viewer and artificially create the precise basis of her angst. Perhaps less honest filmmakers would have cut that footage out, but given the nature of the film's subject, it really just makes everything worse.
Despite her vocal insistence on remaining private, her son films her changing, taking a s***, and sleeping. I think there exist more delicate and respectful ways to pay respect to an elderly woman's poignant desire to disappear from a world in which her existence was defined within still images tailored to man's concept of beauty. Only at the end of the film does the filmmaker unveil his mother's responses to the existential questions he poses at the beginning (when this still had much promise).
Whatever this movie was supposed to be about was entirely lost in the creepy and violating manner in which it was made. The way it exists now, a good hour could be removed and it would still improve the film. I'd skip it.
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