Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist (NR)
It’s understandable that Westwood wouldn’t want to dwell on punk, given the ever-changing nature of her subversive designs. And her story offers many other fascinating threads to explore, such as her environmental activism and questions of the commodification of supposedly “alternative” styles. But barely running 80 minutes, Westwood only touches on such issues, never probing them. The film often suggests a TV special rather than a full documentary, or a sketch for a more detailed and provocative portrait, at least somewhat thanks to reticence from the subject herself: In a statement released on Westwood’s official Twitter account, she disavowed the film, calling it “mediocre.”
The fact that you can sense Westwood’s disillusionment with the documentary project while watching it creates some interesting tension, but director Lorna Tucker doesn’t fully exploit it or turn it into meta-commentary. Tucker wants the subject to speak for herself, and the subject doesn’t really want to. The most compelling moment comes when prim white-gloved conservators handle Westwood’s intentionally tattered punk-era creations. The dissonance here says more than the designer herself does.