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'Eleven Minutes' - 2009 - Movie Review

Jay MCarroll in Reel Life

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'Eleven Minutes' - 2009 - Movie Review

Eleven Minutes' Jay McCarroll

Regent Releasing
Burgeoning fashion designer Jay McCarroll was the winner of Project Runway's first season in 2004. Two years later, he's making his real life runway debut at the September edition of New York City's fashion week. Documentarians Michael Selditch and Robert Tate follow the ebullient fledgling designer during a year of preparation for the eleven minute show that can make or break his career.

Jay McCarroll Trasitions from Reality TV to Reel Life

Jay McCarroll's Project Runway win earned the fledgling designer his first fifteen minutes of fame and a gaggle of fans who've been waiting to see what McCarroll would do to stay in the limelight--and extend his fifteen minutes into a lifelong career. Well, here it is. Phase two. It's two years after the Project Runway win, and McCarroll is making his professional designer debut at the September edition of New York City's prestigious Fashion Week

Documentarians Michael Selditch and Robert Tate follow the ebullient, feisty, out-of-the-box newbie during a year of behind the scenes struggles in preparation for the eleven minute show that can make or break his career.

Can McCarroll Make It From Reel Life to Real Life?

The winners of American Idol have had no problem translating their reality show successes into real life stardom, but their relatively easy transition from high profile debut to ongoing career doesn't seem to apply to contestants on other reality TV shows.

Case in point: Jay McCarroll, Project Runway's first season's first prize, has been eclipsed by subsequent Runway winners--but not one of them has yet managed to ascend to haute couture.

In fact, McCarroll has been laying low. But all that can change, if his Fashion Week show stirs the fashionistas and the buyers. It's an eleven minute show that can elevate him to rag trade stardom or dash his hopes for turning the Jay McCarroll name into a fashion brand.

In following McCarroll through an anguished year of preparing for the show, filmmakers Michael Selditch and Robert Tate present an altogether engaging insider glimpse into the less than engaging cut throat world of fashion. McCarroll, who relentlessly clings to his vision and his dream, is a terrific lead character, a genuinely wonderful on camera presence. He's talented, witty, flamboyant and not afraid to speak his mind. And the stakes are very high for him. So, Eleven Minutes is the clear and compelling chronicle of McCarroll's claim to fame adventure, and you are quickly caught up in it.

Will McConnell Succeed?

At the outset, McCarroll comments bluntly and shamelessly that he has all the designs on paper, but doesn't have a clue about how to produce, manufacture, market and merchandise them. Oh oh. He smartly surrounds himself with industry experts who are champions in all those aspects of the trade. Then, when they attempt to champion him--by guiding him past evident pitfalls in an industry populated by pros who specialize in being mean--he most often chooses to ignore their advice. Oh oh.

McCarroll's willful streak sets up a series of conflicts that give dramatic heat to the film, and that, in turn, more fully reveals the designing artist's character. His retorts are quick and clever, he's charmingly outrageous and doggedly loyal to his own ideas of what works and doesn't. He's quirky and fascinating to watch. But somehow he never quite shows the kind of passion that makes you care passionately about whether he'll succeed or not.

No spoilers here, but have you seen the McCarroll label--a brand called Transport--on the racks of Saks or Urban Outfitters?

This documentary shows that McCarroll's initial success on Project Runway--which has certainly given him more than eleven (or fifteen) minutes of fame--was premature, and that it has created monstrous expectations about him--for himself, for mean-minded fashion moguls and for the consuming general public. He's finding it tremendously difficult to translate his reality RV celebrity into a genuinely productive career as a respected designer with his own label.

What Role Does the Documentary Play?

It's hard to tell what role Eleven Minutes is designed to play in catapulting McCarroll into phase two of his professional life--and whether that professional life is to be based on celebrity or design talents/skills, or both. But no matter. McCarroll is such an interesting personality you want to see more of him. So this personal transition from reality TV to nonfiction film is certainly successful, even if McCarroll's Transport doesn't roll down fashion runways anytime in the near future.

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Film Details:

  • Release Date: February 20, 2009 (limited)
  • Running Time: 103 mins.
  • MPAA Rating: Rated R for language
  • Locations: New York City
  • Language: English
  • Directors: Michael Selditch and Rob Tate
  • Distribution: Regent Releasing
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