My husband and I went to see America The Beautiful by director Darryl Roberts last night, an event I had been looking forward to for weeks.
America The Beautiful sets out to determine, as the tag line states, "is America obsessed with beauty?"
I think this one is definetly worth seeing, but be aware it is wildly unfocused, touching broadly on every beauty related topic known to man - skimming from dangerous chemicals in makeup to vaginal plastic surgery to a bunch of college knobs sitting on a couch dogging women (yeah, this thing is a trip).
This project wasn't even a movie when Roberts started, he was simply acting on an idea to interview women about beauty and body image, gather their thoughts, and learn more about the topic for himself (his two failed relationships ended because he thought he could find someone more beautiful).
Five years and 900 hours of film later, he came out the other side with America The Beautiful, a documentary that has reached well beyond his expectations.
The poor guy had no idea what he was in for.
Roberts himself serves as narrator with a tone of voice that is charmingly naive and well…odd;
"Growing up in my life, I had never heard of an eating disorder," revealed Roberts, during our post show interview.
"Never? You never heard of an eating disorder?" I inquired (I thought the dude was kidding).
"Never heard of it. Then, when I learned during interviews with NY models they were starving themselves, I thought women that did that deserved what they got."
He quickly redeemed himself, and went on to say the reality and sadness of it all sunk in when he interviewed the grieving parents of a bulimic daughter who succumbed to her disease. Soon after he was bombarded by eating disorder organizations nationwide (NEDA had a representative and literature poised on a table in the front of the theater). It was then he realized the enormity of this territory he had stepped smack into.
"The eating disorder groups tell me my mentality reflects the viewpoint of the vast majority of Americans. As professionals, they are tuned out by the mainstream, and they believe I can spread the message through the film faster than they ever could."
Roberts has done 171 screenings with ED organizations thus far, and as he yawned he told us he was boarding a plane in the morning to Vienna to attend an International Conference on Body Image (nice to know there is such a thing, tried to find more info on it but couldn't).
As we said goodbye to Roberts, and wished him well on his flight, I had a weird feeling that took me until today to decipher.
Roberts is a reluctant activist.
He does not have the passion for the tragic subject matter at hand. ED's cut to the bone. This is life and death, yet Roberts seems to be going along for the ride.
Plus, there's something unsettling about NEDA, and others, wanting Roberts to play the poster guy for eating disorder awareness. Its because Roberts is still trying to figure out exactly where he and his film fits in and I would venture to say he'd like hang it up and move on.
I think Roberts will land where he is supposed to, likely with America The Beautiful distributed to schools for educational purposes. But I'll place my bet that we won't see him as the next NEDA President.
Especially since he stated his next project is a romantic comedy.
As I said….odd.