Advanced Style

Advanced Style

(2014)

Based on Ari Seth Cohen's blog of the same name, this documentary examines the fashion trends of several New Yorkers - aged 62 to 95 - and how their personal style and world perspectives have guided their approach to ageing in a contemporary Western culture obsessed with retaining youth.

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Flicks Review

The biggest reveal in this documentary is how a stranger can eye up an unsuspecting woman on the streets of New York without appearing creepy. Ari Seth Cohen is in awe of the older stylish woman. Approaching a woman in leather pants and headscarf he snares his prey with a charming line: “You’re going to be one of our younger ones. We usually start at 50.” “I’m 60,” she purrs.... More

The brightest stars of Cohen’s blog Advanced Style are actually women in their 80s and 90s. A fashionista from Barneys insists photographing chic seniors is “anarchic” and “provocative”. It’s not. It’s fun and life-affirming and pleasantly voyeuristic. So is the film version. It goes a little deeper into the lives of Cohen’s favourite discoveries than the blog, but barely. And that’s a shame because there are hints of amazing stories: the 93-year-old who drew Ayn Rand’s book portrait and the blind 81-year-old who was an original Apollo Theatre dancer.

An inherent problem in adapting blogs for screen is a lack of narrative structure and that’s an issue here as the film flits from woman to woman – ogling their outlandish outfits and allowing bon mots on aging. “Live in the moment.”

The blog has landed its subjects fashion campaigns from Lanvin to Kmart (and Karen Walker although the New Zealand designer doesn't feature in the film). An investigation into the casting of these campaigns would be a more searing commentary on our youth-obsessed society. But Advanced Style doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s an invitation to enjoy the company of some well-frocked grand dames. Sound frivolous? It is. Unashamedly.Hide


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The Press Reviews

89% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • It doesn't reflect too deeply on age and aging, doesn't dwell on the sadder and complicated side of things, and perhaps gravitates towards self-conscious eccentricity, but it's affectionate and watchable enough. Full Review

  • Undeniably captivating, even uplifting at times. But Mr. Cohen and Lina Plioplyte, the director, present a disconcerting mixed message. Full Review

  • Sweet, funny and very, very New York. Full Review

  • [Choen's] presence in the documentary smacks of self-promotion, but the women win out in the end. They are an inspiration with their energy and sheer sense of going for it. Full Review

  • While the film feels slightly padded and might have been sharper in a tight, hourlong format, it's impossible not to be seduced by the joie de vivre of its subjects. Full Review