directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui
Hot Docs, the Canadian International Documentary Festival, runs April 26-May 6, 2018 at Toronto's Bloor Cinema. Visit the fest's official site for more details.
by Angelo Muredda Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui's McQueen opens, as any look at Alexander McQueen, the queer, working-class, Stratford-raised ruffian turned couturier might well be expected to, with an aesthetic contradiction. The opening credit sequence, which unfolds as a series of smooth pans and tilts across extreme close-ups of baroque, CG-kissed headgear and flower-enmeshed skulls, soon gives way to ratty old videotape of the designer in his pre-Givenchy days, punning on "haute couture" and looking more like a hired hand than like one of the most influential designers of the late twentieth century. The contrast arguably makes for an easy rhetorical move and a reductive treatment of a mercurial man. But in McQueen's case, the clichéd approach to the departed artist as a divided self--a schlubby guy who made impossible clothes for people who might never have been in his orbit in another life--feels appropriate and true, and marks a fair introduction to the equal attention the filmmakers pay to Lee, the unassuming and devoted family member, friend, learner, and tailor, and McQueen, the image-maker who channelled his own dark history and mental-health struggles into his creations.