Rob Reviews "The Gospel According To Andre"
I have heard the name Andre Leon Talley bandied about here and there but have never really looked into who he is or where he fits into the parlance of culture. Upon seeing the poster for “The Gospel According to Andre” by director Kate Novack, the title alone intrigued me enough to look it up on the IMDb to find that it was a documentary about this man and his impact on the fashion world. Being a fan of documentaries, I checked it out recently and am not quite sure how I feel about it.
From his roots being raised by his grandmother in Durham, North Carolina during the Jim Crow South years to his decision to pursue his passion for fashion (I tried to come up with something else there and simply could not) that led him around the world through a career at Vogue magazine, Talley’s story is a very interesting character study in following your dreams and not letting anything that could even be conceived as a barrier getting in your way. His sense of family and loyalty is extremely admirable, and his openness to be who he is and share his knowledge with others around him who will truly listen is both inspiring and insightful.
Normally, that would be enough for me to recommend this film, but there is just something else here that just doesn’t get there for me. At first, I wondered if it was simply because the world of fashion has never really been my cup of tea, but I have enjoyed documentaries on other subjects in this same boat before. The more that I think about it, I realize that it is in the storytelling itself. There is a sense of what is known as scatter shooting here, where there is really no honest sense of linear storytelling. Getting a piece here and there and then going back to add a piece to another piece just doesn’t hold my attention as well. As fascinating as Talley’s life has been, telling it in this fashion takes away from its impact. There is also a storyline that deals with the 2016 election that seemed unnecessary without further going into why this was so important to him. It is not smart to make any assumptions as to what those motivations were (although the leap of faith may not be a huge one), and if you are going to go into it, go into it.
I also feel that the pacing here is WAY too fast. Granted, most documentaries run at about the ninety minute range, but I would have liked a deeper dive into parts of his journey, especially as his career started to take off and the things he learned that got him to places like being able to produce full-blown photoshoots for “Vogue”. With the plethora of reality shows that are nothing more than empty ways to become famous for being famous, perhaps Talley’s story could be more serialized to explore what he has gone through and even what he is currently going through in his life.
“The Gospel According to Andre” is by no means a bad film, but by the same token I was neither jumping and screaming or even feeling it being passable by the time the credits rolled. I would be interested to hear the opinions of those who are more ingrained in the fashion world to see if this film gives them a greater sense of satisfaction, but not so much this guy.