The Filmmaker's Personal Quest For Answers
In an attempt to find answers, the Chicago-based first-time filmmaker got out his camera and embarked upon a nationwide investigation of America’s obsession with an unattainable standard of beauty that’s propagated by media and retailers who profit from selling products to people--well, mostly to women--who constantly struggle to improve their appearance and self esteem, and the impact the beauty trap has on our lives.
We are, concludes Roberts, victims of mind set manipulations that would have us be rail thin, light-skinned, eternally young and always meticulously groomed to replicate the airbrushed images we see on billboards and magazine covers. Hunt lets us see just how impossible it is to become the billboard by showing us step by step what photo editors do to digitally makeover the face of a beautiful makeup-free model into the image we see in the ad. The point is that nobody naturally looks that perfect.
Evidence From Everywhere
Roberts shines a light on the cosmetic surgery industry, revealing that many doctors claiming to be plastic surgeons--including some famous practitioners--aren’t board certified. We learn the dangers of nip and tuck and anesthetia from surgical victims, including a famous former news anchor.
Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton and other celebs pop up to comment on the role of beauty in their lives. Playwright Eve Ensler mimicks an African woman who helped her see how absurd it is to not love your body as it is.
Moments after Oprah intones concerns that five year old girls diet compulsively, we meet a teacher who’s created an instructive wall mural of magazine ad and editorial pages--including one from Oprah--depicting women in clothes and poses that she understandably classifies as ’ad porn.’
Geffen: A 'Taylor'-Made Example
Roberts, who comes to documentary making from directing music videos, commercials and two narrative features, is a good researcher and an excellent storyteller. All of the elements he’s compiled in <I>America The Beautiful</I> add up to a powerful statement about issues that plague American women, causing them to endanger their health, go into debt and neglect the talents that make them unique and whole people.
There’s no doubt Robert’s cares deeply and genuinely about this subject. At one point, after one plastic surgery sequence, he says, “I called every man I knew and asked them to call every woman in their life and tell them that they're beautiful exactly the way that they are." Overall, that’s the powerful message of this well-made and important documentary film.
- Theatrical Release Dates:
- Friday August 1, 2008 in New York
- Friday August 22, 2008 in Los Angeles
- Friday August 29, 2009 in Portland, OR
- Also opening in Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, D.C., Denver, St. Louis, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas
- Rated: R for some language, including sexual references.
- Parents Guide: Add content advisory for parents.
- Runtime: 105 mins.
- Country: USA.
- Language: English.
- Filming Locations: USA.
- Awards: Chicago International Film Festival 2007 - Gold Plaque - Best Direction - Documentary - Darryl Roberts