“Young, Sexy & Dead” written and directed by Philip Alderton, is a dark comedy that takes an audacious dive into the world of fashion, beauty, and the absurd extremes people will go to in their pursuit of success. The film is a satirical exploration of the modelling industry, where nothing seems too extreme, not even working with a deceased model.
The story is about Cynthia, an aspiring supermodel who becomes the focus of a documentary when she is chosen to be the face of one of the world’s leading fashion designer’s new fall campaigns. Eager to maintain her “look” Cynthia accidentally overdoses on diet pills and dies on the set, amid the shoot. With a deadline looming, rather than cancelling the shoot, the show goes on proving that in the world of fashion, even a dead model can be in.
The first thing you would notice about this film is that it is unapologetically comedic. However, it’s essential to note that the humour in “Young, Sexy & Dead” is not for everyone. It delves into dark and often grotesque territory, pushing the boundaries of satire. The humour is sharp and irreverent, taking the absurdities of the fashion world to the extreme. Some viewers may find the dark humour uncomfortable, but for those who appreciate satire that doesn’t hold back, it can be a guilty pleasure.
Ivy Levan, who plays Cynthia, the ill-fated model at the centre of the narrative, delivers a standout performance. She portrays Cynthia’s quest for extreme thinness with dedication, even in her “dead” poses, where you can discern grace and a remarkable commitment to selling the role. Her portrayal adds a layer of irony to the film as she embodies society’s obsession with appearances, even in death.
Besides Levan, several other actors in the film add to it being hilarious. There are a few times that it seems as though there are too many characters in the film, but then you realize that each of them gets just as much screen time as the character demands to be of any significance to the story.
“Young, Sexy & Dead” features a wide array of characters, each reflecting a different facet of the fashion industry. While some of these characters bring humour and quirkiness to the narrative, a few may feel less significant to the overarching story.
The film introduces us to the likes of the glib model agent Robert (played by Jeremy London) and the controversial fashion designer Claudio Vestiques (played by Steven Berkoff), each with a unique, over-the-top personality. These characters play into the film’s satirical nature, but some may leave you wishing for a more central role in the storyline.
The film employs a “lost footage” or “archival footage” style, piecing together the narrative as if it were part of a documentary. This style, while providing a unique and immediate perspective, can feel a bit sloppy at times. The footage appears chaotic, reminiscent of films like “The Blair Witch Project” or “Cloverfield,” where the viewer gets a real-time, unpolished look at the unfolding events. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it adds an element of realism to the film. However, this approach might have benefited from a more refined execution to maintain its audience’s engagement throughout.
“Young, Sexy & Dead” stands as a dark satire that takes society’s obsession with beauty and the fashion industry’s extremes to the next level. It pushes the envelope with dark humour, giving viewers an unapologetic look into a world where even death doesn’t hinder the pursuit of perfection. It’s a film that makes you laugh even when you are not supposed to, a bit like being a complicit observer in a bizarre but strangely alluring experiment.
I will score this film 6.5/10. As unsettling as it may be to witness the unconventional handling of Cynthia‘s lifeless body, it’s difficult to ignore the intriguing notion that a photoshoot involving a deceased subject could, in the hands of a skilled and sensitive artist, potentially transform into a concept of artistic beauty.
In the end, “Young, Sexy & Dead” offers a uniquely absurd and satirical take on the fashion world, leaving you with a mix of emotions. While the dark humour might not be to everyone’s taste, it is, without a doubt, a film that takes risks and doesn’t shy away from examining the grotesque facets of our culture’s fixation on beauty and fame.