To provide you with some context before continuing with this review, I did not know who Ozwald Boateng was before I saw this. Nor am I particularly interested in fashion; I like the look of good clothes and a nice suit but that's about it. So I went into the screening of this film completely blind. I came out delighted.
Sure, 'A Man's Story' centres on a particularly charismatic character in British fashion designer, Ozwald Boateng. And it's easy to make the fashion world look glamorous on film - there are cuts to Hollywood stars attesting to Boateng's talent. But there is much more to this film than these glossy elements. At its root, it's an engaging and well-made picture, telling a compelling and entertaining story. I was thoroughly impressed.
'A Man's Story' tells the tale of a period in the life of the British fashion designer Ozwald Boateng, during which time he was filmed by the director, Varon Bonicos. The story starts in 1998 and, already celebrated as a talented menswear designer, Boateng is about to go bankrupt and divorce his wife. Bonicos covers him for the next twelve years, finishing in 2010 when he closes London Fashion Week to great acclaim.
For those familiar with his career, this film ticks all the boxes; his first Paris show, his Savile Row store, breaking into America, his work as Creative Director of Menswear at Givenchy. The behind-the-scenes footage provides great access to these episodes. But for those unfamiliar with his work, it all establishes a novel, intriguing and exciting setting in which the captivating Boateng struts his sartorial stuff.
However, the story is not limited to his professional experience - the clue's in the title - and we follow Boateng on a very personal journey. We witness, first hand, his divorce in 1998, thieves stealing an entire collection, power cuts at crucial shows and him raging with contractors. We see him meeting his second wife and their blossoming relationship. At this point he seems to have it all; widely acclaimed professional success, a beautiful wife and two children he adores. However, the tagline, 'Every Dream Has A Price', is thoughtfully chosen and this perfection comes crashing down as his total dedication to his job - Boateng comes across as an utter workaholic - costs him his second marriage. Some of the film's strongest parts are Boateng's most personal, where we get to see his very real failings. By the end, we come to see him simply as a man - albeit a remarkable one - with his own set of problems.
Technically, the film is stylishly put together, well paced and nicely edited. Despite the nature of the footage, which is mostly handheld, it has a polished feel and it is well-structured. I apologise for the cliché but this is very much a 98-minute rollercoaster ride, following Boateng's professional and personal ups and downs, that left me tremendously entertained.
I recommend this film heartily, whether you are aware Boateng's work or not.
DVD Extras: The 30 minute behind-the-scenes piece documenting the creation and execution of a fashion show will no doubt be of particular interest to those keen on the world of fashion.