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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Advanced Style documentary review: life as art

Advanced Style yellow light

There’s not much here beyond sass, but it is a genuine pleasure to spend time with women who are growing, changing, and living into their 70s, 80s, and 90s.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Street photographer Ari Seth Cohen runs the wonderful blog Advanced Style, at which he shares the photos he takes of the gorgeous and elegant older women he spots on the sidewalk runways of New York City. This documentary version of the blog isn’t about the photographer — though he does appear — but about his subjects. With the assistance of first-time director Lina Plioplyte, Cohen introduces us to “women [who] really challenge our notion of getting older” by doing it with panache and passion. There’s not much here beyond sass and style, but it is a genuine pleasure to spend time with women who are growing, changing, and really living into their 70s, 80s, and 90s. (“It shocks me that I’m 62,” one of the relative youngsters exclaims; she still feels like a kid, she explains.) You don’t have to be a great aficionado of fashion to find their nuggets of wisdom appealing: “Money has nothing to do with style”; “I never wanted to look young, I wanted to look great”; “It’s not about fashion but the attitude that style is healing.” As a film, Advanced Style is slight, but it does serve as a fantastic antidote to the dominance of images of youth in our pop culture, and as a reminder that style is about personality, not designer labels and certainly not about looking like everyone else. The women here live their lives as theater and as art, and there’s something very inspiring in their verve.

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Advanced Style (2014)
US/Can release: Sep 26 2014
UK/Ire release: May 09 2014

MPAA: not rated
BBFC: rated PG (mild bad language)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Rotten Tomatoes

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