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Featured Blu-ray Review: Gia

November 6th, 2011

Gia - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Gia was arguably Angelina Jolie's first big break. Granted, a few years earlier she was in Hackers and while that film didn't earn good reviews, nor was it a box office hit, it did help raise her name recognition. And a year after this film came out, she exploded with Girl, Interrupted. You could look at any of those three films as her first big break. It's been more than a decade since the film first aired on TV, but it is finally being released on Blu-ray. Does it still work as well as it did before? And is the Blu-ray worth picking up for fans of the movie?

The Movie

The film begins with several people in the fashion industry discussing what Gia Marie Carangi did to the world of super models and how she changed the game, inter-cut with her getting her make-up done... by a mortician. We then flash back to her as a young girl (played by Mila Kunis). Her mother and father fought a lot and her mother leaves. When we next see Gia, she's working at her father's diner when T.J. comes in and Gia decides the two of them should go on a date. I don't know how well he liked the date, but she was discovered by a photographer and this was her first break into modelling.

Gia quickly gets flown to New York City to meet with Wilhelmina Cooper, a top agent in the fashion world. Gia is certainly different to most models that were working at the time, but Wilhelmina spots something special in her. It's this relationship that becomes a surrogate mother - daughter relationship Gia craved. Soon afterward, she meets Linda, a make-up artist, while at a shoot. After doing the commercial shots, the photographer asks if any of the models want to make art, art being codeword for nudity. Gia agrees, but only if Linda is part of the shoot as well. After, she and Linda begin a relationship.

With Gia's fame skyrocketing, thanks in part to Wilhelmina as her mentor, it looks like she has it made. However, her relationship with Linda is a little rough, as is her relationship with her mother. And then Wilhelmina becomes ill and everything comes crashing down.

There are some really good performances in Gia and fans of Angelina Jolie, Faye Dunaway, Elizabeth Mitchell and / or Mercedes Ruehl will want to see this movie. However, while watching it, you will likely be struck with how average most of the film actually is. The plot isn't really engaging and despite the performances, we don't learn a lot about the characters, so it's harder to relate. There's a lot of attempts to fill the gaps in the movie's story with style, including some varied visual styles, lots of narration, many characters talk into the camera as if they are being interviewed, etc. At best this is a distraction.

My biggest gripe with the movie is the subject. Models have the least amount of talent out of all celebrities, with the exception of Reality TV stars. Sure, they need natural beauty, but it's the fashion designer that makes the clothing, it's the hairstylist who does her hair, it's the make-up artist does the make-up. They do the really hard work and have all the talent. All a runway model has to do is walk without falling down while print models don't even have to do that, because the photographer might be able to grab an interesting shot before she hits the floor. Seeing a model throw away her good life for drugs, well, it's hard to sympathize with that.

The Extras

There are absolutely no extras on the Blu-ray. As for its video / audio quality, that's a bit of a mixed bag. As previously mentioned, there is some visual style in the film, which includes many scenes that are intentionally lacking in detail. Additionally, for the most part this is not a visually stunning movie. There are scenes to do have colors that pop, high detail levels, etc., but it's a TV movie, so don't expect it to look as good as a theatrical blockbuster. Likewise, the audio presents clear dialogue, there are a few effects that use the surround sound speakers, but for the most part, only the score is present in the rear speakers. On the other hand, the film does look and sound better on Blu-ray than it ever has, including the original TV broadcast, plus it only costs $11.

The Verdict

Gia has great performances by several actresses, but a story that is otherwise average. The end result is something that is worth checking out, but I'm unsold with regards to its replay value. The Blu-ray has no extras and the movie looks and sounds good, for a TV movie, but it costs just $11, which is a good deal for fans of the film. If you have never seen the film, but are a fan of Angelina Jolie, then give it a rental.


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