Girl Model (NC)

 

This documentary offers a glimpse into the brutish meat-market that is the modelling industry. Its opening shot is the most unsettling, a hangar-sized space in which skinny Russian girls parade in their underwear before talent scouts.

One of the latter is Ashley, a former model herself now in the business of promoting – "pimping" would not be unkind – young girls such as Nadya to Japanese fashion magazines. Nadya is packed off to Tokyo, where she spends a bewildering few months being passed around agencies and making homesick phonecalls to her parents back in Russia. She returns home loaded with a $2,000 debt. The film itself is rather starved of context: we are never sure how deep is Ashley's involvement with the Switch agency exploiting these teens, and her blithe admission that the girls might just slip into prostitution is never challenged. The sense of outrage feels stymied by the miserable diet of information.

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