EIFF 2016 Review – The Model (2016)

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The Model Ed Skrien

Mads Matthiesen‘s The Model presents an unsettling glimpse into the fashion industry and the effects it has on young models. Supported by impressive performances from stars Maria Palm and Ed Skrein, The Model is a powerful, stylishly crafted piece that will stay with you long after watching.

Matthiesen pens the screenplay for The Model with Anders Frithiof and August Martin Zandvliet tackling the highs and lows of the industry. Emerging fashion model Emma (Palm) moves from suburban Denmark to Paris to further her career, here she meets and falls for photographer Shane White (Skrein) and develops an unsettled interest in him.

Matthiesen and his fellow screenwriters craft a immersive look into the world of modelling and the interlinked risks and temptations that come with the territory. From manipulative individuals to the lifestyle of excess that comes from gatherings of beautiful, wealthy individuals – however, Matthiesen ensures this never becomes a caricature with restrained and brooding direction ensuring that events always feel authentically powerful without becoming over the top or campy. In doing so, The Model is a watch that is sexy, elegant, real and ultimately unsettling.

Driven by this intelligent narrative, The Model plays with our initial perceptions of its protagonists. The beautiful, yet quiet and awkward Emma reveals a darker side when faced with a temptation that divides Shane and her, marking a dramatic shift in the narrative and tone. Jealousy, betrayal and mistrust become prominent features as The Model progresses – character motivations become suspect as an air of paranoia floats around them. Zofia (Charlotte Tomaszewska), Emma’s roommate, becomes a “threat” whilst Shane’s past love-life causes conflict showing that beneath the facade of beauty lies a darkness.

Stine Thanning‘s costume design provides the high-fashion elegance that one would expect from a film with this title, whilst Petrus Sj√∂vik‘s cinematography captures the fusion of classic Parisian architecture with lavish contemporary design.

Palm delivers an impressively complex performance which explores the damaging effects of temptation and excess on a young, naive industry beginner. The transition of Emma from painfully shy to damaged, scorned woman is handled with a subtle intensity by Palm. Skrein is equally well-cast as the man caught in the middle of Emma’s shift in manner. The actor brings a watchable gravitas and charismatic sexiness to the fold as the hotshot photographer.

The unexpected narrative direction of The Model and exploration of the potential dangers of the industry makes for a subtly powerful watch – one that is supported by elegant and stylish direction from Matthiesen and well-pitched performances from Palm and Skrein.

[rating=4] | Andrew McArthur

Drama, World Cinema | Denmark, 2016 | 15 | 2016 Edinburgh Film Festival | 16,18th June 2016 |Dir.Mads Matthiesen |Maria Palm, Ed Skrein, Charlotte Tomaszewska, Thierry Hancisse