In­side a model’s jour­ney, doubts

Los Angeles Times - - Movies -

There have been any num­ber of be­hind-thescenes doc­u­men­taries on the world of fashion, but Ole Schell and Sara Ziff ’s re­veal­ing and en­gag­ing “Pic­ture Me” must surely be unique. Schell was a re­cent film school grad­u­ate when Ziff, his girl­friend, de­cided to for­sake col­lege to pur­sue a ca­reer as a fashion model. The two filmed a diary of her ex­pe­ri­ences, cov­er­ing a pe­riod of five or six years dur­ing which we wit­ness her evolv­ing at­ti­tudes about her­self and her pro­fes­sion in a suc­cinct and vi­brant film.

Ziff ’s fa­ther is an NYU pro­fes­sor of neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy and her mother a lawyer, and they are wary of her choice but sup­port­ive. A lovely honey blond, Ziff shot to the top fast and was soon mak­ing more money than her fa­ther, but the ex­cite­ment and glam­our of big money and travel grad­u­ally wear off in the face of gru­el­ing sched­ules — the con­stant mov­ing among New York, Mi­lan and Paris, the long hours dur­ing Fashion Weeks, es­pe­cially in Paris, where at one point Sara breaks down from sheer ex­haus­tion.

Ziff and her col­leagues, all ar­tic­u­late and thought­ful, con­sider the draw­backs of a mod­el­ing ca­reer — the feel­ings of ex­ploita­tion, be­ing treated like a robot, a shaky sense of self-worth as they com­pete with skinny 14-year-olds — and an in­creas­ing con­cern with how the im­ages of per­fec­tion mod­els project in the me­dia im­pacts young girls and women.

In time, Ziff finds a way to rec­on­cile her mod­el­ing with a pur­suit of higher ed­u­ca­tion, giv­ing off an aura of smil­ing self-con­fi­dence and self-re­spect.

— Kevin Thomas

cal­en­dar@latimes.com

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