on 13 August 2011
Robert Altman (1925-2006), a very productive US director, liked crowds and handled meandering and interlinked stories very well. Prêt-à-porter (1994), a fashion show for ready-made clothes, plays in Paris, immediately following his The Player (1992) and Short Cuts (1993), both five star cases as well. Prêt-à-porter, like most of his films, is ideal for Altman's favourite technique of cameo appearances (Harry Belafonte. Paolo Bulgari. Naomi Campbell, Anello Capuano and many more), with a host of international stars, models and designers. The film may be best known for its many cameo appearances and its final scene.
It is quite obviously difficult to do justice to all and everybody, so the National Board of Review gave its 1994 Award ("Best Acting by an Ensemble") to all and everybody: Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Kim Basinger, Chiara Mastroianni, Stephen Rea, Anouk Aimée, Rupert Everett, Rossy de Palma, Tara Leon, Georgianna Robertson, Lili Taylor, Ute Lemper, Forest Whitaker, Tom Novembre, Richard E Grant, Anne Canovas, Julia Roberts, Tim Robbins, Lauren Bacall, Lyle Lovett, Tracey Ullman, Sally Kellerman, Linda Hunt, Teri Garr, Danny Aiello, Jean Rochefort and Michel Blanc.
Apart from, a bit like film-in-film in Truffaut's La nuit Américaine, the many fashion shows within fashion shows add to the turbulence of the movie, it has a hilarious self-parody by Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, which, like so much in this movie, is originally triggered by lost (actually: misplaced and later found luggage. Labiche and slapstick rather than communication and comprehension, nutty like Jerry Lewis, but a lot more refined, I needed two viewings until I was ready for my third, where I finally got the whole story together. And had a big, long laugh. And had a big, long laugh. Not all Altman is five star to me, but that which is, is hall of fame quality.