Features Joseph Walsh

Barbican Film: Andrei Konchalovsky Directorspective

Gloss, released in 2007, will be screening at the Barbican this month on Saturday 20 with an introduction from the director himself as part of the Andrei Konchalovsky Directorspective‘. Each film has been chosen by Konchalovsky and the season will reflect the breadth of his critically acclaimed work.

Gloss exposes the obsession western culture has with beauty and wealth. Yuliya Vysotskaya stars as Galya, a young women with dreams of making it big in Moscow’s fashion industry as a model. Leaving her mining town for the dreamed of life of glitz and glamour, Galya learns that all that glitters is not gold. She manoeuvres herself through the Moscow underworld of designers, photographers, high-class pimps, Russian oligarchs and Mafia gangsters, realising that in order to achieve what she initially perceives as success, she must sell herself heart, mind, body and soul.

Konchalovsky scathingly attacks consumerist culture and how companies market their “products”  – be it a dress or a person – in order to make us believe they can make us happy. Gloss is also skillfully shot, ironically using cinematic devices employed by perfume and fashion companies for their adverts, in which the false promise that their product is needed in our lives or we are somehow less is constantly suggested.

Konchalovsky also carefully contrasts the glitz of the fashion world with the seedy realities of an industry that exploits women who will do anything for a moment of fame and to earn a enough to make a living. Ultimately, it beats home the message that, in Konchalovsky’s own words, “It isn’t necessary to advertise what a person really needs.”

Joe Walsh