All Is Vanity is the debut film written and directed by Marcos Mereles that tries too hard and doesn’t quite succeed in delivering the surreal and absurd film he was attempting to make.
Bitter photgrapher (Sid Phoenix), his intern (Yaseen Aroussi), make up artist (Rosie Steel) and model (Isabelle Bonfrer) are in a London warehouse for a photoshoot. Despite the tensions, they are all gathered to work together until one of them disappears and then the fun really begins.
It feels as if Mereles is trying to make a surreal, whodunit, social commentary on the banality and vanity of the fashion world. That’s fine except it is too big a subject matter for this relatively short film at 72 minutes. It is littered with biblical references that at times feel lost in the story that Mereles is trying to tell. Whilst the dialogue is grounded in realism, it feels more theatrical and out of sorts in this film. It is supposed to be absurd and boundary pushing but it doesn’t quite get there and that is not through lack of trying.
Having said all of that, the cinematography is excellent and the direction is assured. It is just the script that needs a lot more work, less would have certainly been more. Had there been a lighter touch with the script, the more complex elements Mereles was trying to achieve might have been given room to breathe and easier to grasp.
UK & Ireland theatrical and digital release date is 14 October 2022.
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