MOVIE: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRE
STARRING: ANDRE LEON TALLEY; TOM FORD; ANNA WINTOUR; MARC JACOBS
DIRECTED BY: KATE NOVACK
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
I don't know much of anything about fashion. I wear dress slacks and a polo every day to work. On weekends, I am in my best Alien or Blade Runner inspired t-shirt and a comfy pair of jeans. That may not make me qualified to write a review on a documentary that involves fashion, but at least I know who Tom Ford is. I know what Anna Wintour does for a living. What I didn't know is who the legendary Andre Leon Talley was. I am glad that I do now. In The Gospel According to Andre, we get an up-close look at the fashion editor of Vogue magazine and who this style guru truly is. He is a giant man, in size, spirit, and personality, which is why director Kate Novack documents a full profile of this man is. Where he came from, how he climbed the ladder of fashion, and what makes him so fascinating.
Talley grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where he was raised by his grandmother. What became a turning point of Andre's life: seeing all the fabulous clothing worn by the congregation at Sunday church. He became hooked to it all, he was a star in the theater program, and could not wait to get away from the racism in the south. He would earn a scholarship to Brown university, took his degree in French studies, and used it to his advantage to become a part of the fashion scene in Europe. But for an outsider, becoming a part of the rich and fabulous was not an easy accomplishment. There needed to be something about you. You need to have that IT factor. And Andre obviously has it.
My appreciation for documentaries varies from film to film. Some are about inspiring subjects or a look at a part of society that we don't experience everyday. In this case, director Kate Novack knows she has a larger than life person in Andre Leon Talley. You need to be important enough to have a movie made about you and although this film may run a little bit long, there is a plethora of his life to discuss. Andre lived during the 70's, mingled at Studio 54, became the assistant to Diana Vreeland, and would become a fashion adviser to people such as Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, and Jennifer Hudson. He has seen, lived, dreamed, and done it all. And not because he fit the mold, but because he made the mold. Here is someone who had determination to do what he loved.
Along the way we get several interviews with Wintour, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Whoopi Goldberg, Fran Lebowitz, and more, but Novack does not let her documentary get stale. Much like Andre's sense of fashion, this documentary is always moving on to bigger and better things. This is a documentary with a good mixture of past and present. We see Andre as a confident young man in a suit and tie, to his fabulous wardrobe of capes, to the moral rejection he felt watching the results of the 2016 election. Andre has been an influence of all things fashion and nobody is more worthy of his life being on full display.
So yes, I truly enjoyed The Gospel According to Andre. This is not a documentary grabbing any end of the year awards, but like other documentaries such as Iris, RBG, Amy, or Gaga: Five Foot Two, there is enough of a reason for Andre's life to be captured. Plus, if you are a fashion novice like I am, you might even learn a thing or two about style. Andre Leon Talley is the ultimate example of that: pure class and style.
Written by: Leo Brady