The September 2007 issue of Vogue was the magazine's biggest issue ever, and the filmmakers follow the incredibly hands-on Wintour through the process, from brainstorming the concepts to deciding which clothes to feature, planning photo shoots and ultimately choosing what images will make it in. Known as a demanding tyrant (one editor calls her "the pope of fashion"), Wintour also gives us a glimpse of her childhood in London and the family pressures that fuel her perfectionism.
If the film was only about this icy woman, it would be a rather clinical experience. And this is the fun side of putting a magazine together; there isn't a single mention about story planning, writing, subbing or proofreading.
She may reveal some of her inner insecurities, but Wintour isn't hugely likeable (although her black sense of humour is hilarious). Instead, the heart of the film is her creative director, the ex-model Grace Coddington, who happens to be an artistic genius. She also wears her feelings on her sleeve and speaks openly, with sardonic humour, about her ongoing clashes with Wintour.
This tension between these powerful, brilliant women makes the film grippingly entertaining. We follow them to Paris, London and Rome (for a riotous cover shoot with Testino and Miller), and through the intricacies of photo spreads and editorial decision-making. Their stubbornness is wonderful to watch, and is balanced by the colourful people around them, most notably the drama queen Tally and a series of designers both young (Thakoon) and well-established (Gaultier).
The cameras follow both Wintour and Coddington so closely that we really get a sense of their personal feelings, their private lives and their daily interaction, which is a fascinating combination of admiration and stubborn will. Filmmaker Cutler captures this with superbly elegant photography and smart editing that shows the photos to great effect--even the ones that don't make the cut. And the film is packed with terrific, telling moments. Forget The Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty, this is the real deal.
Run time: 90 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 20th August 2009
Box Office USA: $3.7M
Distributed by: Roadside Attractions
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 92 Rotten: 19
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: RJ Cutler
Producer: RJ Cutler, Eliza Hindmarch, Sadia Shepard