READY TO WEAR (PRET-A-PORTER) (1994)

Directed By: Robert Altman 
Written By: Robert Altman & Barbara Shulgasser
Cinematography: Jean Lepine & Pierre Mignot
Editor: Suzy Elmiger & Geraldine Peroni

Cast: Julia Roberts, Tim Robbins, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Lili Taylor, Forest Whitaker, Richard E. Grant, Rupert Everett, Kim Basinger, Sally Kellerman, Tracy Ullman, Lauren Bacall,  Linda Hunt, Stephen Rea, Ute Lemper, Lyle Lovett, Teri Garr, Danny Arielle, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Amouk Aimee, Chiara Mastroianni, Rossy De Palma, Michel Blanc, Jean Rochefort, Francois Cluzet, Sam Robarbs, Georgianna Robertson 

A fashion show in Paris draws the usual bunch of people; designers, reporters, models, magazine editors, photographers. Lots of unconnected stories which all revolve around this show, and an all-star cast.


This was my third official Robert Altman movie to see. Though unfortunately not in a row. I remember the film having a successful music video and soundtrack before it even came out. Unfortunately the movie didn’t match the soundtrack’s success. That included the hit single “HERE COMES THE HOT STEPPER” 

After the success of THE PLAYER it seemed like Robert Altman was having a comeback and he wanted to take on another world/culture. His last film was SHORT CUTS and that was more interlocking stories then taking a look into or try to dismantle another popular subculture from the inside. That was more foreign abs international but also glamorous.

Allowing him to use his dual methods of ensemble casts. Where even though the actors are playing characters here it feels more like an out and out comedy. So they are all over the top. Not as serious, nor are there any serious moments throughout. 

It might be understandable him taking on this movie after the more serious and sad SHORT CUTS, but while this is more lighthearted it also is a challenge. As this would be his most mainstream film in a while. As he was taking on a subject that was very popular and most audiences might not be used to his films and their outlook. 

This film is set in that world of fashion to tell ongoing stories and big inertia where the characters cross paths. All in all, it stays humorous with Kim Basinger playing an on air television reporter. Who comes in and out to explain certain relationships but is clueless about fashion. So that it feels like a replay of the reporter in the film NASHVILLE.

The film ultimately never encapsulates any meaning or why we are so enraptured by the glitz, glamour and celebrity of the fashion world. So that in the end it comes across as misguided and empty as the world he is capturing. As fashion constantly reinvents itself. It proves there are No rules and seemingly no depth. Not to mention watching this film feels dated. It’s very episodic. 

Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren get to reference classic scenes and relationships from their career and previous collaborations and give a scene where you believe they are remaking a classic moment only for it to end with a joke. 

Which is pretty much the mood of the film. As all plots and stories seem to end in that kind of manner. 

The film’s cast as usual is filled with stars. The biggest of whom seem here in an unneeded story but help make it more commercial. As Tim Robbins and Julia Robert’s seem stuck here in a bad afterthought of a romantic comedy plot line.

This film seems to find Robert Altman riding his high horse. This film goes for more populism but leaves viewers puzzled. As it is more artistic and voyeuristic than plotted.

This film is like a bunch of short stories stretched over fashion week. 

The film is flashy and appeals to itself but ultimately is frustrating, especially with all the talent involved. Where you are left to wonder what could have been. 

Everyone is well dressed but we are left as confused as Kim Basinger’s reporter. Where we wonder what this was all about. 

It seems like the director was unfocused but having fun. Filled with recognizable names, good actors, supermodels and models of the time. Where the film feels flirtatious as it always has a wink to give off 

Can’t tell if the film was rushed or cut together fast with a murder mystery in the middle that largely takes a backseat or is forgotten. Ultimately the film comes across as a farce. That feels like it is being made up as it goes along. Though with a stylish hand guiding it. Who leaves to perplex the audience. 

Grade: C+

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