Friday, 23 August 2013


Ulrich Seidl (born 24 November 1952 in Vienna) is an Austrian film director, writer and producer.

Models (1997) examines the hopes, fantasies, and finally the realities of young models. Although supermodels often figure as the heroines or at least vaunted objects of desire in our society, Seidl fixes on the rather banal everyday tics and predicaments from which the women suffer: cellulite, breast problems, the inability to be alone and the catty competition among them. With his unique blend of documentation and stylisation, Models portrays the models’ daily life and the monotonous application of make-up and hair gel that commodifies the body. It is a world of glamour whose shine and lustre Seidl rubs away.
Mattias Frey 

I saw this film at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival. Models is a thoroughly unpleasant tale, shot in a documentary style, about coked-up and unhappy models in Vienna. The excruciatingly long scenes alternated between existential longings for love and meaning, whining about physical imperfections, real or imagined, and hedonistic pursuits. It made its points in the first ten minutes, then kept making them over and over and over for the next hundred and ten. Maybe that was the point.
James McNally

The statuesque women of Models (1999) only exacerbate the gap between pretty façade and rotten interior, but what distinguishes it from every other romp through the image industry (drugs, eating disorders, pathological emptiness) is the director's eye for perfect visual evocations of his subjects' feelings. Captured in the most intimate situations, Models' models don't mind the ubiquitous camera; thus rendered invisible, Seidl indulges in stylized compositions that isolate physical and gestural oddities, including a startling opening shot of a girl desperately repeating "I love you" to a mirror that blocks out and replaces her face — an appropriate metaphor, since throughout the rest of the film the camera voyeuristically hides behind mirrors or else acts as one. If any véritist deserves credit for having "written" his work, it's Seidl.  
Michael Joshua Rowin

The inertia of the characters’ actions cannot be activated by fictional devices that could give thematic richness to their behaviour. Seidl arrives at cliché by filming cliché; it is as though the subject of modelling fascinates him, but the subjects themselves are without much interest, and the passive gaze that Seidl adopts in all his work is too readily matched by the passive inexpressivity of his subjects. Another filmmaker might have abandoned this project of bored, struggling models and found others more narratively interesting: perhaps models going in for a beauty contest, models that have recently been offered contracts to do photo-shoots around the world. But such an approach would somehow have violated Seidl’s claustrophobic aesthetic. How to hold to one’s aesthetic of inertia – which runs through the director’s work – without arriving at a certain inertness of thematic inquiry?
Tony McKibbin

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