Tragic figures always make good documentaries, and Lee Alexander McQueen makes ‘McQueen’ a great one. Directors Iam Bonhote and Peter Ettedgui have fashioned (hehe) a straightforward film that traces (hehe) McQueen’s rise from chubby kid to fashion bad boy wunderkind. I remember being enchanted by McQueen’s designs, but also being baffled by it, and he says he wants his audience to be either ‘repulsed or exhilarated’ by his designs. I admit I have felt both.
Lee starts out as a Saville Row craftsman and that’s where he learned his technical skills. He then moved to Milan and got a job at Romeo Gigli based on sheer balls. He was then lured into the House of Givenchy, though he still designed for his eponymous line. It is in the latter where he enjoyed his great successes. You see them all here from the questionable concepts of having his model appear as rape victims, to that show stopping piece wherein robots splatter paint on a plain white dress resulting to an astounding black and neon green masterpiece. But he also had a dark side, getting liposuction at one point, and there hare allusions to heavy drug addiction. It all comes to head when his mother dies, and on the day before her funeral, he commits suicide. The directors do a good job of presenting this chronologically, but it can also be too efficient, and not as artsy as its subject. And where is the interview with Annabelle Neilson, one of his closest friends, who also recently passed away. Still, you will leave the cinema knowing more about the man, and his clothes. And that is ultimately a good look.