Aug 22, 2018

A first-rate doc about a gifted artist.


Grade: A

Directors: Ian Bonhote, Peter Ettedgui

Screenplay: Ettedgui (Listen to Me, Marlon)

Cast: Bernard Arnault, Joseph Bennett

Rating: R

Runtime: 1hr 51 min

by John DeSando

“Give me time and I’ll give you a revolution.” Alexander McQueen

Too many films glorify their artists’ lives without letting you into the creative process. Not so McQueen. Director Ian Bonhote and writer-director Peter Ettedgui, et al., capture the emerging incandescent genius of Lee Alexander McQueen while getting up close and personal to his inspirations and demons and finally his suicide.

This transfixing documentary shows in beautiful images, including his iconic skull motif, his revolutionary fashion-dramas, with visual designs fit for MOMA, and a robust backstage world of  real-life passion and pain fitting for a genius who can barely keep up with his own gifts and those the world bestows on him. In some ways he reminds me of another troubled but gifted artist of the bizarre, Poe.

I saw the exhibit in New York 2010 with my granddaughter, Alexandra, and as splendid as it was, this bio brought me closer to him than the real thing. My reflection is my highest compliment to an artist who may end up like other greats such as Whitney, but whose range of achievements dwarfs even those geniuses.

Sad as McQueen’s hanging is, immediately following the death of his beloved mother, perhaps some gifted artists may be fated for as violent an end as their art is passionate.  The comfort is in his clothes and their dramatic shows unlike any other in the history of fashion.

“I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists.” McQueen

That’s history making splendidly chronicled.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at