October 1st 2014 04:26
Flamboyant eccentricity has rarely been as endearing as in the female subjects of Lina Plioplyte‘s Advanced Style (2014). Aged between 62 and 95, these women, rather than wither away in dust-choked apartments, arrested by nostalgia-tinged reveries, seek to engage the world with their vibrant, assertive individuality. Their sense of fashion may range from the dubious to the hideous, with one woman using offcuts of her blazing orange hair as makeshift eyelashes and another turning empty toilet rolls into colourful wrist bracelets. But what can’t be subjectively denied by wearied preconceptions is their remarkable vigour, their lack of inhibition and their determination to keep pace with a world which tries to tell them to slow down and, at their age, to treasure every gasp of breath.
Based on Ari Cohen’s blog through which he sought to bring attention to the shifting diversity of styles of women of an advanced age on the streets of New York, the film is modestly but lovingly assembled, with Cohen himself hovering peripherally as a mentor and guide. But the indefatigable life-force of the women is what shines through. Some project a larger than life persona, others seem almost embarrassed by the attention. One or two regard any recognition as being long overdue, whilst the majority humbly accept the belated consideration as another layer of enrichment upon their already storied lives.
Advanced Style is, more than anything, about the transcendence of age, about the inoculation of the human spirit against the weight of numbers as years. If they cared at all for those who opposed their desire to persevere or evolve their idiosyncratic impressions of what constitutes sound fashion sense, they’d laugh in their faces. But these astonishing women are oblivious, carefree, anything but manufactured, and for these and countless other reasons, put us all to shame.
Advanced Style opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday, October 2.