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Mademoiselle C: Film Review

Mademoiselle C Poster - P 2013

The Bottom Line

Non-fashionistas will find little of interest in this meandering documentary featuring a gallery of familiar faces.

Director

Fabien Constant

Fabien Constant's documentary chronicles the efforts of former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfield to start her own magazine.

That people in the fashion world live lives far different than ours is made manifestly clear in Fabien Constant’s documentary about former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfield. Similar to The September Issue except for its relative lack of drama -- and the fact that Roitield is a far more congenial camera subject than the icy Anna Wintour -- Mademoiselle C should please fashion devotees, while leaving everyone else scratching their heads.

The film chronicles Roitfield’s efforts to start her own New York-based magazine, CR Fashion Book, when she decided to leave Vogue after a ten-year run as its editor-in-chief. But while the stakes may seem to be high, the glamorous, elegant 58-year-old, who at one point is seen doing strenuous ballet exercises, doesn’t seem to sweat it very much.

That may be because she’s got a coterie of devotees in the fashion world who are seen paying effusive tribute to her throughout the documentary. These include such colleagues and collaborators as Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Bruce Weber, and Donatella Versace, as well as celebrities like Kanye West, Sean Combs and -- making her obligatory fashion documentary appearance -- Sarah Jessica Parker.

We also hear from Roitfield’s grown children, including her son, who discomfitingly describes his mother as a “MILF”; her partner of thirty years, who responds to a question about whether they’ll ever get married by saying it would only be “for economic reasons”; and her daughter, whose pregnancy inspires Roitfield to put a baby on the cover of her magazine’s debut issue.

Anecdotal and shapeless, the film never achieves much narrative momentum, nor does it reveal very much about its subject, other than such tidbits as her penchant for collecting Minnie Mouse watches and her personal grooming habits. “I’m not a girl of the bush,” she proclaims.

Not surprisingly, there is extended footage of various photo shoots, including one involving a nude model in a cemetery that apparently caused some consternation, and another in which Kate Upton poses as a sexy version of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. These segments, as laborious for the viewer as they must have been for the participants, add little to our knowledge of the process. Even less interesting is the grainy footage shot by Roitfield on a camera phone at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, which feature such table companions as Gisele Bundchen, Tom Brady and -- you guessed it -- James Franco.

Best appreciated for its deliciously eccentric moments -- you’ll never get the sight of the vampirish-looking Lagerfeld gingerly wheeling a baby carriage out of your head -- Mademoiselle C ultimately feels like a promotional video for the already converted.

Opened Sept. 11 (Cohen Media Group)

Director/director of photography: Fabien Constant

Producers: Eric Hannezo, Vincent Labrune, Guillaume Lacroix, Fabien Constant

Editor: Stephanie Drean

Composer: The Shoes

Not rated, 90 min.