HBO’s “About Face” Gives Dimension to Models
HBO’s ‘About Face’ Gives Dimension to Models

By: Brian Lowry Thursday, July 26, 2012,

Frankly, I didn’t think a documentary about models discussing their lives, history and (yes) insecurities would be particularly compelling, but as John Anderson concluded in his Variety review out of Sundance, I would be wrong about that.

Premiering July 30, “About Face: The Supermodels, Then and Now” is exceptionally interesting, providing much more depth about the nature of the industry than the current influx of “America’s Next Top Model” and its reality-TV progeny ever could.

Part of that has to do with seeing these famous faces age, allowing imperfections and perhaps a little rust to creep into the platinum images they once projected. What’s really fascinaing is seeing how comfortable most of these women are in their skin, as well as philosophical about beauty, aging and even mortality.

“Of course it’s no fun getting old and sick and dying. We all know that’s coming, and it’s a bore,” says Jerry Hall.

Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, at 71 minutes, this is one of those rare docs that could easily go a good half-hour longer, if only because of the assortment of anecdotes shared. Paulina Porizkova (right), for example, talks about her failure to appreciate her beauty in her youth (that makes one of us), while Isabella Rossellini (top) chats about the underlying misogyny of cosmetic surgery.

Continuing a summer of mostly firstrate HBO docs, “About Face” not only provides insight into women whose face has been their fortune but, in the candid interviews, demonstrates that America’s (and indeed, the world’s) former top models are more fun to watch than the next ones. In that sense, it gives new meaning to the old adage, “Out of the mouths of babes.”

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