God Save My Shoes: Film Review

More or less than you ever wanted to know about women's relationship with their fancy footwear.

Director Julie Bensara straddles a somewhat awkward line between clinical observations and celebrity rants in this purportedly sociological examination of the relationship between women and their shoes.

Julie Benasra’s documentary purports to be a sociological examination of the intimate relationship between women and their shoes. But God Save My Shoes also displays a creepily fetishistic feel—it feels less interested in seriously exploring its subject matter than providing gleaming close-ups of sky-high stiletto heels and the female physiques that are inevitably transformed while wearing them.

The film, currently receiving its US theatrical premiere at New York’s Quad Cinema, will best appeal to those whose idea of culture is visiting Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum and who know that there really is a person named Manolo Blahnik.

The star shoe designer, whose creations were immortalized in Sex and the City, is one of the more level-headed interview subjects featured in this wide-ranging but scattershot documentary. For every psychologist and sex expert testifying to the physical and emotional subtexts of expensive footwear, there’s a celebrity or shoe addict gushing about their closets overflowing with their treasured collections.

Among them are professional poker player Beth Shak, who is obviously a consistent winner since she owns 900 pairs of shoes; Baroness Monica Van Neumann, who spent $5,000 on a pair of boots; burlesque artist Dita Von Teese, for whom high-heeled shoes are a professional necessity; and singers Fergie and Kelly Rowland, the latter of whom refers to her shoes as her “babies.”

Providing a more sobering perspective is an orthopedic surgeon who vividly describes the crippling physical infirmities that result from the constant wearing of painful footwear.

Director/screenwriter Benasra obviously has an affinity for her subject—her previous documentary, Just for Kicks, detailed the relationship between sneakers and hip-hop. But her alternately lighthearted and pseudo-serious approach here ultimately proves more wearisome than illuminating, although it will no doubt inspire an immediate impulse to shop for a certain segment of its audience. 

Director/screenwriter: Julie Benasra
Producer/executive producer: Thierry Daher
Directors of photography: Pierrot Colonna, Beatrice Mizrahi
Editors: Catherine Peix Eyrolle, Jacques Terrien
Music: Elliot Carlson
No rating, 70 minutes