16 July 2010 | maryszd
Doesn't dig deep enough
The September Issue is a superficial look into the making of the September 2007 issue of Vogue. Many of the shots consist of various photographers, art directors and members of the editorial staff behaving in a groveling and subservient way around editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. The one exception is stylist Grace Coddington, a confident and gifted woman who does superb creative work and isn't afraid to stand up for herself. Her work really is the backbone of the magazine. Once she leaves, Vogue is on a fast ride downhill. Wintour's insights, as she looks at and discusses potential fashion spreads, seem fairly prosaic. She must have gotten the job by game-playing and the usual machinations of the business world. Outside of standing back somewhat and letting Coddington do her work, I don't see what she contributes to the magazine except for making her staff feel compulsively insecure. I enjoyed the few scenes that show her with her twenty-something daughter, who wants to be a lawyer. She clearly has the ability to "get" to Wintour that no one else in the film does. Good for her. Wintour talks about her father and siblings, but neglects to mention her American mother, an interesting omission. Wintour is a lonely character, in a way. There's a revealing scene of her in the back of a town car clutching a Starbucks coffee and staring straight ahead. She's off in her own world most of the time.
As is to be expected, no one on the Vogue staff actually wears the outlandish clothing featured in the magazine. Wintour wears flattering silk dresses, Coddington dresses in various frumpy black outfits and the staff and photographers wear practical work clothes. The exception is Leon Talley, the only member of the staff who truly buys into the fashion myth. Since Wintour reveals so little of herself and the filmmaker is as deferential to her as the rest of her intimidated staff, ultimately "The September Issue" is an elegantly made film with no emotional heart.