I blame SIFF. I only had time to see one film in the three-disc set The Delirious Fictions of William Klein from Eclipse, but there is not other set I’m so inspired to complete. Unfortunately, I’m reviewing films for the Seattle International Film Festival by day, packing to move at the end of the month (in the middle of SIFF) by night, watching DVDs in between and writing when I can find the time, so I only had time to see the first film in the collection. Is Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? great? Perhaps not, but it is charming, funny, clever, playful satirical, and surprising.
Dorothy MacGowan, a real-life model who (apparently) only made this one film, is the wide-eyed American supermodel in Paris, a young women both guileless and worldly, at ease with her fame yet modest in her life, just taking everything as it comes while the rest of the world dresses her up in their own preconceptions and fantasies. Klein, a fashion photographer turned filmmaker, directs his French-language production in a style very obviously influenced by the French New Wave and Polly, who embodies the mod fashion of the mid-sixties with her stick figure, heavy eye-liner and wigs, recalls Jean Seberg in Breathless and Corinne Marchand in Cleo From 5 to 7, yet feels far more independent than either of them. She’s also far less defined, a blank slate of contentment skipping through a world and not caring what labels others put on her. His satire lacks the savagery or savvy or Godard but he does have fun playing with the image culture of his time, a culture he helped shape through his own work with “Vogue.”
Klein’s French-language fiction debut is one of three features in this box set from Eclipse. The budget-minded collection also features Mr. Freedom (1969), a garish lampoon of American foreign policy in the Vietnam era starring John Abbey as an arrogant patriot, and The Model Couple (1977), a social satire with Andre Dussolier and Anemone as a “normal” couple under 24-hour video surveillance for TV consumption.
The review is here on MSN.