Films 5–8 of the Miu Miu Women’s Tales Depart Sharply from Their Predecessors

In some cases, that’s a good thing. In others…not so much.

Athena Hunter and Lika Bosman in “Somebody” (Miranda July, 2014)

I’m back with my review of the next four films in Miu Miu’s “Women’s Tales” series! These were, on average, longer — running between 10 and 15 minutes, and on the whole they told more coherent stories and were more plot-driven than the first few. They were also the least experimental bunch.

Other than these basic similarities, though, these films are vastly different from one another.

Let’s get into it.

5. “The Door” (Ava DuVernay, 2013)

Emayatzy Corinealdi and Gabrielle Union in “The Door”

I was surprised to find myself disappointed with this piece, because I usually love Ava DuVernay’s work. The problem with this is not the fashion, the cinematography, or even the concept. The problem is the execution.

The short’s main idea — a recently divorced woman being cheered up by her friends — is a good one, but because this film has no dialogue, the actors are reduced to pantomime. I don’t think that a film needs dialogue in order to be good (wait until my review of De Djess in the next article), but in this film, the actors do speak — we just can’t hear it. Instead of speech, sentimental music played over the whole film.

DuVernay would have been better off just including dialogue, because the nonverbal communication and feigned conversations end up lacking subtlety and therefore appear overdone.

6. “Le Donne Della Vucciria” (Hiam Abbass, 2013)

Lubna Azabal in “Le Donne Della Vucciria”

This film just radiates joy. It makes you want to travel to Italy.

Abbass’ piece starts with a dollmaker (Patrizia Schiavone) constructing a number of tiny, fashionable dolls as she herself is dressed immaculately. This old-world setting immediately struck me as romantic, particularly paired with the traditional Italian music that plays throughout the film.

The dolls in the film are far from Barbies: They are all different ages and ethnicities, and don unique, detailed pieces of clothing that we as an audience are instantly reminded that this is a film made for a fashion house.

Halfway through, we discover that the music has been coming from the world of the film all along, and the singer along with the females for whom she sings are wearing the same outfitsas the dolls in the artisan’s workshop. We realize that their clothing was made by our artist— that she is a dressmaker — and as she observes the performance from her balcony, the performers regard her from below.

For only a moment, they seem to move like marionettes, as though guided by our artisan. This is worship of the fashion designer for the latter’s role in facilitating women’s confidence, beauty, and self-expression. A fitting film for this series, and an idealistic interpretation of the fashion industry.

7. Spark and Light (So Yong Kim, 2014)

Riley Keogh and Maria Ellingsen in “Spark and Light”

This one is extremely moving, and also one of the most traditional or normal. I liked that I could follow it (especially considering that a few of these films make little sense), but it isn’t a challenging film in any way. I don’t mean to sound self-contradictory here, but I do think it’s possible to strike a balance between coherent and experimental. I’ve seen it done. And in spite of Spark and Light’s dream sequence, I would have liked for it to go a little further down the latter end of the spectrum.

Still a great film — don’t get me wrong. And the fashion is showcased in an intentional, meaningful way. I just think So Yong Kim could have gone the extra mile and made it just a little less predictable

8. Somebody (Miranda July, 2015)

The Somebody app; Courtesy of somebodyapp.com

Of these four, Somebody is hands-down the best. It’s about a mobile app that allows people to send each other in-person messages through strangers (e.g., a man gets broken up with via a random man, a woman gets proposed to via a server, etc.). It becomes ridiculous at the end, though, when a corrections officer gets a message from a plant that needs to be watered — and the interaction gets very sexual and very weird very fast.

Amazing. The perfect mix of earnest social commentary and absurdist comedy. I recommend this film to everyone — especially Black Mirror fans. You can even check out Miranda July’s website for the now-defunct Somebody app here.

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Writer, filmmaker, feminist. Twitter: https://twitter.com/GabrielleUlubay

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Gabrielle Ulubay

Gabrielle Ulubay

Writer, filmmaker, feminist. Twitter: https://twitter.com/GabrielleUlubay

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