Flavorwire’s own film editor, Jason Bailey, recently wrote of the biopic that, at this point “even the most casual viewer can recognize the pitfalls of the form, in which the reduction of an entire life to a single short-form narrative results in clumsy expositional dialogue, one-dimensional characters, comically obvious historical markers, and tediously unimaginative soundtrack cues.” It’s hard to refute this concise rundown of all the trite ways biopics venerate, dramatize, and summarize the messy lives of those who inspire and/or incense us. So any news that yet another such life will be condensed into a two-hour sob-fest in which a famous actor bravely sports a prosthetic something-or-other brings with it both excitement and dread. Which is exactly what you may have felt this week, if you stumbled upon news that an Alexander McQueen biopic is in the works.
While this could potentially be the worst way to revisit such an iconoclastic figure — whose work itself challenged tepid trends in fashion — the director behind the project suggests we may have reason to be a little less cynical in our anticipation of… whatever this may be. Andrew Haigh, writer/director of the incredible 45 Years, Weekend, and creator of the less-great-but-nonetheless-worth-mentioning Looking, is going to be at the helm of the biopic, with filming potentially beginning at the close of 2016.
Haigh has become known for his intentionally banal naturalism and his interest in the what the minutiae of his characters’ lives say about them — as opposed to what pivotal events reveal. This could be a refreshing turn for the otherwise sensational or hagiographic propensities of the biopic. Of course, Alexander McQueen’s own vision certainly didn’t exist within the realm of realism — he often morphed or obfuscated parts of the human form to create both breathtaking and disturbing designs that pushed the boundaries of fashion’s subservience to the human form, suggesting, rather, that the two could meld into something entirely new.
Since nothing is known yet about who’ll be playing McQueen — or anyone else in his life — we’ve put together a list that dream casts this biopic. We’ve given most people in McQueen’s life two potential actors, one for each way this biopic could go. You’ll see both the more straightforward selections (ones that’d be excellent, but would fit into any old biopic) and the I’m Not There-style selections, which are more about essence than physical, age, racial or gender likeness, and which might actually be more appropriate for McQueen’s reality-distorting work.