E1 Entertainment // 2008 // 103 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Katie Herrell (Retired) // March 4th, 2010
The lowdown on high fashion.
Jay McCarroll won the first season of a famous reality fashion show. He needed that win to "launch" his career. He needed that win to boost his confidence in his abilities. And then he needed that win to leave him alone yet still shine a light on the path to fulfillment through fashion. The winning proved the easy part. Eleven Minutes (or the length of a runway show) is what came after Project Runway.
The back of the DVD case proclaims: "After being crowned 'the next great American designer' on Project Runway, the sharp-witted Jay McCarroll took the fashion world by storm." I'm not sure that copywriter and I were watching the same film.
Certainly Jay McCarroll is sharp-witted (and habitually whiny). And there's no argument that he won Project Runway. But Eleven Minutes is about the struggles of Jay McCarroll to be recognized without the reality television prefix, and the frankness, honesty, and truly behind-the-scenes look at McCarroll's struggle is what makes this film so enjoyable.
This film is a jumble of people, places, and emotions leading up to an 11-minute fashion show in Bryant Park during Fashion Week in New York City. McCarroll commands the film (and the dialogue) but the camera is not in love with him. While this documentary has a professional feel (no iPhone or camcorder shots here), it also doesn't have a reality television feel; there is no fancy lighting or costuming (Jay, you're a fashion designer, why do you look like you are always waiting for a bus?), and any P.R. person would love to wash Jay's mouth out with soap.
As Jay frequently says, he is as well known and liked for his personality as he is for his fashion -- and that's certainly true in this film. While Jay's creative process and the creation of his lineup are a constant thread throughout this film, Jay's reflection on those creations is a more prominent thread. Project Runway has a frenetic focus on fabric and fashion; Eleven Minutes allows for reflection on that process.
That reflection is best left as is, without the video editors trying to overemphasize Jay. There's a scene at the end of the film when the dialogue and faces of two different people are juxtaposed, one thought, one cut, versus another and it is a disorienting and extremely confusing scene that left me grateful the rest of the film wasn't so heavily massaged. In another scene Jay is seen being interviewed on camera by someone apparently involved in the documentary. That person isn't introduced and their presence is jarring and a bit disruptive.
At the same time, as demonstrated by one special feature, the scenes and the pace of the film are still set up well. The special feature "Interview with Jay McCarroll" is actually a filmed radio show...yawn. It's much more interesting to watch Jay being reflective in his own studio, or in a clothes closet (where it feels like Jay spends a lot of time), than in a boring radio studio.
But those well planned scenes are not worth being repeated on the deleted scenes; I'm not sure what that was about. On the technical aspects of the release itself, this isn't an HD film in any respects. I couldn't even punch it up to full screen on my large Mac without the picture going extremely grainy. I never had a problem with the audio (perhaps because Jay projects well), although this film lent itself to a flashy soundtrack and there wasn't one.
Since this is billed as the "lowdown on high fashion" it would have been interesting to see how others in the fashion world feel about Jay McCarroll. Do they love him, hate him, think he's legit? If the Fashion World is truly as backstabbing and cutthroat as everyone says then there needed to be some reflection on Jay himself -- besides what his P.R. people said about him behind his back. Also Jay didn't seem to spend a lot of time sweating over his own designs in this film. Everything physically fashion-related seemed farmed out until all the outfits magically appeared in time for the models.
Still, I came away from Eleven Minutes liking and rooting for Jay McCarroll. And that had everything to do with his sharp-witted personality.
Not Guilty. This film was really the high-brow view of low fashion.
Review content copyright © 2010 Katie Herrell; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site