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The September Issue

Fashion is a religion. This is the bible.

Directed by R.J. Cutler, The September Issue is a behind-the-scenes documentary about the production of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the biggest issue ever, weighing in at 5 lbs). The film follows editor-in-chief Anna Wintour as she takes a remarkably hands-on approach to the whole process, from choosing which clothes to feature to planning photo shoots to deciding on the final images, though, strangely, there’s almost nothing in the film about the actual articles. However, the heart of the film is the relationship between the frosty, frankly terrifying Wintour and her creative director, model-turned-photographer Grace Coddington, who’s worked by Anna’s side for decades. As such, she’s practically the only person in the film who isn’t scared of Anna. Their frequent, stubborn clashes (particularly over a shoot involving the documentary crew and a cameraman’s beer belly) are a joy to watch. Frankly, it’s astonishing that Wintour (for whom the term control freak is something of an understatement) agreed to be in the film at all and you can’t help wondering if she was at least partly motivated by the need to counteract Meryl Streep’s thinly-veiled impression of her in The Devil Wears Prada. To that end, Cutler is careful to include some candid moments with Anna and her family, and she does reveal both a touching vulnerability and a sharp sense of humour. That said, it’s Grace that emerges as the true star of the film, with her sardonic humour, off-the-cuff comments and in particular the gradual mellowing of her relationship with the film crew; the photo shoot is, at least in part, her revenge for being followed around for months. There are also colourful contributions from flamboyantly dressed editor-at-large André Leon Talley and photographer Mario Testino, whose cover shoot in Italy with Sienna Miller goes amusingly off-message. The September Issue is an impressively directed, sharply edited and thoroughly entertaining documentary that will appeal to both fashionistas and non-fashionistas alike. – Matthew Turner, ViewLondon

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Directed by: 
R.J. Cutler
Running Time: 
Screenplay by: 
Documentary Feature

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