REVIEW: Iris

10 04 2015

IrisFull Frame Documentary Film Festival

My knowledge and appreciation of fashion is, more or less, limited to what I learned from documentaries like “The September Issue” and “Bill Cunningham New York.”  Nonetheless, I fully enjoyed the 80 minutes I got to spend with New York fashion maven Iris Apfel in Albert Maysles’ biographical documentary “Iris.”

The film is not unlike Ethan Hawke’s “Seymour: An Introduction” in the sense that the chief concern is not what they do but how they go about doing it.  The nonagenarian icon, who gained notoriety for her unconventional accessorizing, articulates that it all comes down to spicing up life.  At this point, she’s done with being boring or constricted by other people’s ideas of beauty.

Her wardrobe is a true postmodern canvas, mixing and matching the tawdry and the elegant.  Iris brings her professional background in interior design to the closet when dressing herself, along with a keen awareness of fashion and art.  If Joan Rivers were to ask her trademark “Who are you wearing?” question, Iris would be talking for minutes about all the creators’ work that converges in her outfit of choice.

Maysles, in what sadly marks his final documentary, achieves many different aims within “Iris.”  He informs, entertains, and delights as he illuminates Iris Apfel as more than just the clothes she wears.  The film exuberantly captures the wild spirit underneath. B2halfstars