Review of The September Issue

Review of The September Issue directed by R.J. Cutler
Rating ***

This documentary takes a behind the scenes look at the people at Vogue as they prepare for the September 2007 issue of the magazine. The September issue is traditionally the biggest issue of the year.

This film offers an interesting glimpse into the world of high fashion. Since the film takes place in 2007, it hasn't yet been hit by the recession. While the film captures what would turn out to be the biggest issue in the magazine's history, I think if they were to have done the film say two or three years later, or even now, it would have made for a more interesting story. The one thing this film lacks is conflict. I would much rather see a story of how a magazine is forced to deal with dwindling advertising revenues and the economic downturn.

Anna Wintour, the magazine's editor, is the primary focus of the film. She comes across as very smart and professional. But for as much time as she appears on screen, you don't really get a very good sense of who she is as a person. What are her likes and dislikes? What does she do outside of work? The filmmakers do make an attempt to answer these questions. They delve into the backgrounds of several of the key people in the film. I found the story of Anna's exposure to fashion in Paris during the 60s interesting. And there was also a brief scene with Anna's daughter. But that was about as personal as it gets.

The other person highlighted in the film is Grace Coddington, a former model who was forced out of the business after an automobile accident. What I liked about Grace was that even though she worked for a magazine focused on fashion, she looked and acted as if she worked at the local Costco. And I'm not putting her down. She wears what's comfortable. You won't see three inch heels on Grace. But Grace knows her job and doesn't need to impress anyone by trying to fit into some perceived Devil Wears Prada image.

The slow pacing and lack of any real conflict kept the film from getting a higher rating from me. There also were no extras. It would have been great to have had an audio commentary from the filmmakers. Still. I never lost interest in the film.

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