Billowing palms and cigarette girls; coupe glasses of Champagne: this was no run-of-the-mill film screening. This past Friday night saw the premiere of "Mean to Me," an amusing, stylish short film set in the 1930s, and starring supermodel Agyness Deyn in her acting debut.
A black-haired Ms. Deyn plays a sensuous, rather volatile femme fatale, who gets unceremoniously dumped by her wealthy playboy beau, played by British actor Linus Roache (who seems to adore on-screen entanglements with intense ladies of fashion - remember "Wings of the Dove"?). Let's just say that Ms. Deyn's character doesn't take the news with ladylike graciousness.
Aesthetically-speaking, "Mean to Me" itself is a studiously detailed, 13-minute love letter to the Deco era: deep, rich, film noir lighting; ornate period opening titles; a dark Stravinsky score (characteristic of the time during which the film industry was transitioning from silent films to "talkies," and still relied on classical scores to denote mood).
Agyness Deyn. Photo by Quentin DiDonna.
Linus Roache with Agyness Deyn. © 2009 McDermott & McGough Dir: Peter McGough / DP: Dominic Lahiff
Linus Roache, Agyness Deyn, Peter McGough at the film's premiere at the Bowery Hotel on Friday night. Photo by Patrick McMullan.
Daphne Guinness, wearing a black veil and platform boots by her friend Alexander McQueen. Photo by Patrick McMullan.
Anh Duong. Photo by Patrick McMullan.
Lauren Santo Domingo. Photo by Patrick McMullan.
Designer Zac Posen designed Ms. Deyn's wardrobe; her white satin gown in the opening scene would have made the "Gosford Park" aristocrats jealous.
Perhaps the most interesting character of all was the film's director, New York artist Peter McGough, whose obsession with historical detail extends well beyond his new film. No piece of furniture or fixture in Mr. McGough's Greenwich Village apartment was made after the 1930s. He is said to have previously lived in an 1880s-styled country house without running water; horse and carriage had been his preferred mode of transportation.
At the premiere, Mr. McGough donned a three-piece suit, while Ms. Deyn wore a Ric Owens gown and a wool cap. Nearby, British heiress and fashion plate Daphne Guinness sported a black veil and platform shoes of ankle-wobbling height. A cigarette girl handed out silver-cased Guerlain lipsticks to audience. The color? Red, of course.
This was the 1930s, after all.
Deyn devotees and Deco aficionados can screen "Mean to Me" on March 4th at New York City's Cheim & Read gallery, after which the film will make the rounds at international film festivals.