VOD film review: Fashionista
Blood and darkness8
Ian Winterton | On 29, Mar 2018Reading time: 3 mins
Director: Simon Rumley
Cast: Amanda Fuller, Ethan Embry
Watch Fashionista online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW TV / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Though made directly after director Simon Rumley’s ambitious and fantastic Crowhurst, currently getting rave reviews across the globe, Fashionista hit cinema screens first. While wholly different in terms of setting and subject matter, both films depict the unravelling of a person’s mind.
In Fashionista, the unfortunate character is edgy hipster April (the outstanding Amanda Fuller), whose beardy, tattooed husband, Eric (Ethan Embry, best known as the ‘real Pete’ in Sneaky Pete), owns a vintage clothes emporium in Austin, Texas. Life is dull, but ticking along and April, whom we see inhaling the scent from piles of second-hand clothes, seems content. But, as money-worries raise their head, the clothes piled up around April, in every corner of shop and apartment, grow oppressively large. Then, April discovers Eric is having an affair and her descent begins.
This through-line is deceptively simple, and is merely a spine upon which Rumley hangs a trippy collage of often disturbing scenes. Even before the dedication at the film’s close to legendary auteur Nic Roeg, fans of Performance (1970), Don’t Look Now (1973), The Man That Fell To Earth (1976) and – in particular – the brilliantly bonkers Bad Timing (1980), will pick up on Rumley’s homage. In true Roeg style, the storytelling is unsettling and non-linear, with a sense of dread presentiment evoked with flashes from the characters’ future: a man picks a gun from a drawer, April wakes up naked beside a man she is yet to meet, blood-spattered women dance like they’re possessed. Most pertinently, Fashionista opens with a young woman walking through the emporium and we see her throughout the film, incarcerated in a psyche ward. But is she connected to April’s past, or future?
The grungy, low-budget aesthetic adds to the feeling of grimy squalor that April becomes mired in. Her addiction to clothes leads her into the clutches of a quasi-Satanic millionaire, Randall (Eric Balfour), with a flash car and a fetish for buying women expensive clothes. The film wears its metaphors fairly lightly, but Randall arguably represents the patriarchal manner in which society values women’s appearance above their other qualities, and thus controls them. He also represents the gentrification of Austin, as the city, one he knows and loves, has eschewed its scruffy vibe for neo-yuppy minimalist blandness.
It’s a dark, violent and bloody tale, with Randall revealed as little more than a high-end pimp. Realising how low she’s sunk, we watch – transfixed and terrified – as she struggles to break free of her new master’s malevolence and the consumerist beast he worships. April’s journey takes her to an epiphany in a clothes store that is just one stand-out scene among many. The result is independent filmmaking at its best. Watch Fashionista and spread the word: brilliant low budget movies are an art form that can thrive via VOD.
Fashionista is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of a £11.99 Sky Cinema Month Pass subscription.