A Film Review By Stefan Vlahov
Documentary filmmaker Darryl Roberts explores the danger of America’s obsession of beauty in the cleverly-titled America the Beautiful. The filmmaker, and therefore the film argues that our obsession with beauty has endangered young women’s well-being and has created an unstoppable and hazardous health risk in that age group. Native Chicagoan Roberts’s goal is honorable and a documentary on this subject couldn’t have come at a better time. It is a shame than, that the film has as many short-comings as it does. It is a talking head documentary by-and-large and the subject interviewed indulge into such strong cliches that boredom, even if one is interested in any of the themes that are formed by the participants, will quickly and surely set in. None of these so-called “experts” on such subjects as plastic surgery, anorexia, dieting, the modeling industry, and many others, adds any new or significant information that I didn’t already know. Yes, statistics we are supposed to gasp at are implemented as frequently as possible, but I think I have heard more intriguing facts on the E! Channel. Another thing Roberts must take the blame for is his concentration on this country alone. Yes, Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson are culprits that young girls look up to, and are Americans, but it is a statistical fact that most of the ‘celebutantes’ that my age group aspires to be like are not Americans. One wishes Roberts’s self-hating liberalism didn’t seep onto the screen at every opportune moment and that he also took a jab at the international community. For it is one hundred percent true that young girls the world-over are affected, inspired and (pun not intended) shaped by their favorite celebrities. Roberts may have dodged the bullet his bias brings to this film if the film was at least edgier in its depictions of the horrors that anorexia, plastic surgery, and diet pills can inflict on their helpless and ignorant users. We are given laughable Zoo-style slow-motion stills of photos of anorexic body parts, that are quickly edited out to make way for Roberts’s infatuation with shots of Paris Hilton’s dangerously thin body structure. So, in the end we are left with a presumably important documentary, that fails, not because of its subject, but because of the filmmaker documenting it. Isn’t that always the case with documentaries that miss the mark?