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Movie Review of 'The September Issue' - 2009


About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Movie Review of 'The September Issue' - 2009

The September Issue - Anna Wintour Sits in Judgement of Fashion

Roadside Attractions
The September Issue covers the preparation of Vogue Magazines annual style-setting issue, and profiles the book's prima fashionista, Anna Wintour, who is arguably the most influential taste-maker in the world. R.J. Cutler follows Wintour into editorial meetings, fashion shows in Europe and to her own home, where she asks her teenage daughter's opinion about fashion and photographs.

Anna Wintour, Vogue, fashion movies, fashionistas, grace coddlington

Wintour, widely recognized as the inspiration for the lead character in The Devil Wears Prada is an attractive, sophisticated and driven business woman whose comment can sway colleagues to concur, or who can kill them with a look. She's been at Vogue for 20 years, and is targeting the 2007 September issue -- with its Sienna Miller cover -- to be her biggest (thickest and most sold) ever.

Cast of Characters

Wintour's colleagues -- Vogue honchos Grace Coddlington, Tom Florio, Andre Leon Tally and others, as well as Oscar de la Renta, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vera Wang, Karl Lagerfeld and other designers and top photographers, including Patrick Demarchelier -- are much more than window dressing in the film. Their off the cuff comments and oh-so-telling glances not only communicate volumes about the work culture, ethic and ambience at Vogue, and set the dishy tone of this entertaining documentary, they make it clear that Anna can be the Wintour of everyone's discontent. But if Vogue's 'Ice Editor' is feared, she's equally respected. And her influence is indisputably pervasive. She decides -- almost single handedly -- what will be hanging on the racks in boutiques and department stores during the coming season. Feathers? It's Anna. Fur? It's Anna. Jackets as the key element for an outfit. Yep. Anna again. So, she's someone you want to know. But perhaps not necessarily in person.

Theme and Intent

The September Issue - Anna Wintour in sunglasses at fashion show

Roadside Attractions
The September Issue confines its observations to the rarified environs of the fashion world, documenting what happens within the offices of Vogue, at designer ateliers and runway shows, on photo shoots and in the back seat of Wintour's limo. The lavish fashions are displayed on showroom racks and on underweight models. The purpose of the film seems to be to give the one-in-eight women in America who regularly read Vogue, and countless others who pick up The September Issue an entertaining and intimate glimpse at the personalities, intensely personal creative processes and behind the scenes machinations that shape the season's 'look' and fuel our fashion-conscious consumer-driven economy. There are no trips through Bloomingdale's or Macy's, nor are there interviews with fashion buyers or clothing customers. No social commentary, nor justification -- save Wintour commenting that people love lovely things, and why not? And her acknowledgment that fashion makes some people nervous. And Grace Coddlington's passion for beautiful images is contagious.

But this film doesn't delve into nor divulge any of the fashion world's downsides or controversial issues. Like what? How the images in Vogue and other fashion books create unattainable body images and the fashion industry's exploitation of sweat shop labor, for example. This film doesn't provide social commentary, not even subliminally. But director RJ Cutler maintains an objective observer of the scene and neatly refrains from puffery of any sort.

Cinematic Style

The September Issue is an engaging and exquisite film. The narrative is carried forward with close up and beautifully framed interviews mixed with stock footage and freshly fashionable footage shot for the film. Bob Richman's stunning cinematography is an element of style that perfectly fits the film's subject.

Following the countdown format -- the linear progression from the planning of the September issue to its publication -- the film is finely paced and smartly edited. Dramatic tension is sustained by highlighting the relationship between Wintour and Coddlington, and presenting their ongoing creative clashes. The focus on gripping details -- those telling glances, close up images of accessories and textured fabrics, using the camera to enter into still photographs -- and the capture of moments of levity, of contained anger and palpable fear, and use of a soundtrack that successfully underscores the images, lock in your interest, even if you don't regularly follow fashion.

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Film Details:

  • Title: The September Issue
  • Director: R.J. Cutler
  • Release Date: August 28, 2009 (New York) and September 11 (Los Angeles and select cities)
  • Running Time: 88 mins.
  • MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
  • Parents Advisory: strong language
  • Locations: New York City
  • Language: English
  • Production Company: A&E Indie Films
  • Distribution: Roadside Attractions
  • Trailer

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