Ready to Wear (1994) Poster


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Unfairly Maligned. Far better than people give it credit for
zetes7 June 2001
And that's not saying that it's great either. It is not. But it's tremendously low imdb rating makes me wonder who the heck is voting here. Pret-a-Porter is a pretty good Robert Altman film that is no better or worse than Short Cuts, which, while I feel it is a good film, I also think it is overrated. This one is, however, heavily underrated, and they both got the same imdb score from me: 7/10 = 3/4 stars.

This is another attempt to make another Nashville. There's a humongous ensemble cast of actors, some of the best on the planet, a couple of the best who ever lived. The screenwriter doesn't connect it all very well, and lots of the characters seem superfluous or underdeveloped, unlike in Nashville where even the characters who are only in a couple of scenes are as familiar to the viewer as a close friend. I would particularly have liked the Danny Aiello/Teri Garr section to have been removed. It falls pretty flat. The Sophia Loren/Marcello Mastrioanni section, the section that most film buffs are going to be excited for, also plops by its end. And Kim Basinger, a good actress, truly deserving her L.A. Confidential Oscar, is not very good as the Southern U.S. reporter: her accent is difficult to get around, and her character is often annoying, too. Sometimes, though, her pieces succeed.

Many other of the vignettes succeed quite well, although there are never any fireworks about to shoot off. The Tim Robbins/Julia Roberts plot is very funny. The three publishers, Sally Kellerman, Tracy Ullman, and Linda Hunt's attempts to sign photographer Milo (Stephen Rea) to their magazine are all very humorous. The love quadrangle between the two designers, Forest Whitaker and Richard E. Grant, and their lovers is very good, also. Anouk Aimee's section is also great, maybe the best part (Rupet Everett is good, also). I loved her so much in La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2. I was aching for her and Marcello Mastrioanni to interact.

The ending is truly fantastic. It is very well directed and filmed. It's a good film.
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What do the critics know?
therryns-116 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I am completely baffled at the bad reviews this movie received. Robert Altman apparently shot first and came up with a story board later, and we are the richer for it. Just as the finale of this romp is definitive statement on the putative subject of the ready to wear fashion week,so this movie is a statement on movie making, and the conclusions would appear to be the same. Altman's confidence in dispensing with the conventions of plot, character development, the classic forms of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy jumps off the Eiffel Tower, girl moves in with Godzilla, is as stunning as the final scene. The sheer pleasure of watching Altman's usual suspects perform at the top of their game is enough reason to watch the movie. I will never look at Forest Whitaker and Rupert Everett in the same way. As for Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, blame it all on pasta. And as for the clothes and the people and the sad old boobs of publishers, frosting on the cake. What a complete visual joy!
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Altman amusingly strips the fashion industry bare
Geofbob22 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
This is an entertaining spoof built around a Paris fashion week, and was actually filmed during that event. It's a typical Robert Altman film, with multiple story lines, fast cutting from one setup to another, and overlapping soundtracks, which all make it hard to follow at the cinema, and very suitable for rental so it can be replayed. It would take too long even to begin to summarise the subplots and characters, but in addition to a galactically stellar cast; there's a host of guest celebrities, including lots of couturiers; and of course dozens of models on and off the catwalk, in and out of designer clothes, and in the climactic scene without clothes at all.

It is always healthy - both for laughers and laughees - to laugh at powerful people who take themselves too seriously; and by poking fun at the fashion industry and its surrounding media circus, Altman is performing a social service, as well as being a true artist. But I don't find his satire as cruelly biting as some people do. He treats some characters sympathetically or neutrally - eg the designer played by Anouk Aimée and Marcello Mastroianni's mystery figure. And even the extreme characters - eg Richard E Grant's screamingly gay designer or Kim Basinger's gushing TV reporter - are only a little more exaggerated than some real-life equivalents.

The final nude catwalk parade is not only a visually delightful and neat solution to the problem of a designer having lost her collection; but is also a postmodern take on the fairytale of the emperor's new clothes - nowadays, the crooks wouldn't have to pretend they were making clothes for the vain emperor, but would be able to sell him nudity, so long as it had a trendy designer label!
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Witty, scathing, and a delight!
paulklenk18 January 1999
It was truly exciting to see `Ready to Wear' in the theaters when it first came out. Seldom do films delight and amuse us at this level. But this is like a Woody Allen film: either you love it or hate it. Since the story is too complicated to explain (and the best thing about this film), I'm sticking to mostly non-plot aspects in this review.

One of the challenges in your first viewing will be this film's utter lack of exposition. You will be asked to board this train while it is moving; in fact, you will need to leap from track to track. The story is not unfolded as much as it is thrown at you in pieces. Two minutes after you are tossed into a conversation (already in progress), you will be asked to join another. Unless you have a mind as competitively poised as a super-model, you'll miss much of the movie the first time.

Don't let the immersion in the world of fashion fool you into thinking this is a movie `about' fashion. Fashion is merely a backdrop, a setting for Altman to play his scenes. That he so thoroughly masters his subject is merely a tribute to his intelligence and sophistication.

Like Milos Forman in `The Firemen's Ball,' Altman has created a wonderful menagerie of human foibles with which to lampoon us. Our pettiness, our lack of shame, our corruption and our low regard for each other are portrayed so truthfully and cleverly that we don't notice who is the real subject of the satire. We smugly assume it is the fashion world on trial.

Even the opening credits were fun - what a collection of personalities (all stitched on garment labels)!. Every casting decision was a good one; every performance was satisfying. The only thing funnier than Danny Aiello in drag, is watching him being told he looks like Barbra Streisand. And the only thing funnier than that is realizing it's true.

While we're trying to figure out a murder, we are also being dazzled by the constellation of world stars of all kinds parading before us. That Altman dared to attempt such a feat (the group photo at Versailles alone must have been a challenge) is not half as astonishing as that he pulled it off. But the stars, too, are merely a backdrop to funny stories and situations. No one but Altman could make an Elsa Klensch cameo so surprisingly hilarious. The interview about the pouf skirts was just plain funny. But will most of the audience appreciate it? `I doubt it.'

Another delight is Altman's pervasive references to clothing, so dominant you will miss half of them. A cab driver, identifying a murderer, tells the police `all white people look alike.' How does he tell them apart? `By their clothes.' Film is confiscated from a fashion shoot, because the murder suspect was inadvertently captured in the background. But his face was cutoff in every shot. `We don't know what he looks like,' the detective complains. `But we know what he was wearing.' Every conversation, every plot, each detail is so thoroughly self-referencing to fashion; but mostly, there are dozens of funny moments. Even the red herring of murder is based on our mistaking an innocent fashion item for an omen of death.
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A little too... something
OnlyZuul20 August 2006
I've seen it a couple of times. I understand Altman was maybe trying to create a disjointed, farcial almost surreal type atmosphere, but I found the lack of cohesiveness and clear cut thread annoying and it caused me to not care about the film or its characters. Being just a regular jane and not blessed with 15 or so credits in Film-making at NYU, the subtly of the art was lost on me. I desperately wanted just a little exposition to grab onto, and all the film's inside jokes and vague, obscure references to Italian films I found to be self indulgent. I'm not saying this film was bad - just bad for me. I think he could have pulled off the same feel and frenzied little European farce with a TOUCH more connective tissue in the plot. Not a lot, just a little for the audience to care about the story, the characters and whatnot. The thing I found in the film that I even cared more than a fig about was the Simone storyline.
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Not classic Altman, but solid Altman
tobybarlowny6 May 2006
There's one thing in this film that I love in a very film nerdish sort of way and that is Danny Aiello's character, which is, in a strange way, a homage to an earlier character in Altman's California Split (a film well worth revisiting). And while some of the characters may seem over the top, my own experience in the fashion world would attest to them being pretty realistic. While it feels as fragmented as any Altman, there is a story here, and it's a pretty subtle one, but perfectly satisfactory in my opinion. I think the film, overall, is woefully under-rated. I feel like everyone got caught up in the idea of "ALTMAN" and then got confused by "THE STARS" and then didn't really bother to look at the movie, which has some lovely grace and is well worth the time. Then again, why listen to me, I liked Ishtar.
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Just some jumbled-up fun
DocPeters2 August 2002
Like everyone else, I note this didn't have much of a plot, etc. etc. But it was just a hoot to watch. I died every time Richard E. Grant came on the screen -- he's a phenomenal character actor. I say, lighten up! This wasn't just satire/social commentary... there was subtle homage to everything from the Marx Brothers to Fellini. In other words, don't analyze too hard; just enjoy!

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A highbrow film about dog poop?
tieman644 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"I am Diogenes the Dog. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy and bite scoundrels!" – Diogenes

Like most of Robert Altman's films, "Pret-a-Porter" involves a large cast of characters gathering together to put on a performance, in this case a prestigious fashion show in Paris.

The film was marketed as a satire, but it really isn't. This is fashion industry as scatology, a "world of sh*t" in which everything is grotesque and warped. As with Diane Arbus' famous photographs on "freaks", Altman deliberately blurs the boundaries between the "ideal" and the "abnormal", the "beautifully formed" and the "deformed", the "feces" and the "sanitary", the "inside" and the "outside".

All the characters here are thus "freaks" in some way, all part of the same freakish human circus. There are dwarf attendants and magazine editors, transvestites, cross-dressers, lesbians, gays, the obese, the pregnant, adulterers, illegitimate babies, mortuary attendants, and a multitude of abrasive caricatures. Mixed in with these are the "ideal" bodies of the celebrities, the exposed unnatural/natural bodies of the models, identical twins who exchange their sexual partners, film-star parodies, television personalities and original film-stars reliving previous roles.

Altman then contrasts modern sex icons (Basinger, Roberts etc), with ageing, disintegrating sex icons of the past (Sophia Loren, Lauren Bacall etc), and goes out of his way to tarnish "surface beauty" by imbuing the film's sex bombs with abrasive personalities.

The much derided abrasiveness of the film is therefore intentional. Altman isn't just dealing with caricatures, he's dealing with the grotesque. Of course grotesque art is, by definition, "the least ideal form", always a war of "attraction and repulsion". As such, the reoccurring motifs here are dogs, animals and dog feces. More than juvenile poop jokes, Altman's recalling the scatological traditions of Diogenes, the dog philosopher.

Diogenes was associated with public outbursts and obscenity. His ragged, unashamedly dirty existence radiated disrespect and contempt for all who gazed upon him. But while he was an animal, putrid and filthy, he was nevertheless "more civilised" than his "cultured" audience. In a similar fashion, everyone in this film is held under the contemptible gaze of Diogenes, whose mischievous dog feces show scorn for an intrusive and aggressive kind of, not so much modern culture (typified by television, celebrity, photography, fame and fashion – the usual boring targets of satire), but the hypocrisy of all culture.

In the film, both television and photography are implicitly connected by characters accidentally stepping in dog feces. These accidents occur in both private and public places, playfully linking the home, studio and streets with a media culture which both intrudes on privacy (exposing shameful human behaviours, foibles and frailties) and disguises these behaviours by glitzing and glamming them up. So Altman is less concerned about the fashion industry, than about what garments and technology alternatively hide and expose, the prevalence of his symbolic doggy poop serving to bring the "high" down "low". Everything is grotesque whether you're on or off the catwalk.

The film ends with a nude catwalk scene, one of Altman's most brilliant sequences. Here, models walk fully nude whilst the words "You're so beautiful the way you are" hum on the soundtrack. The sequence derides the commodification of "beauty", serves as an admittance that humanity is as grotesque as its ornaments/apparels, works as a dig at the fashion industry's obsession with "authenticity" (the true "inner subject/self", the "stripped down ego or essence"), and of course points toward the end result of all fashion-as-fetish-wear: total, naked sex. More than this, though, the sequence suggests that there is beauty in freakishness and freakishness in beauty, which is why a strange aura of both life and death radiates from this sequence. The catwalk models are like clones, cold stick figures, one of which is pregnant. The pregnant model speaks of a mystery about birth and something new, but she is also the least sexual of the models. Conversely, the others are like zombies, dead, crawling out of a tomb, yet are beautifully sexualised.

This blurring, this confusion (ugliness in beauty, beauty in ugliness) is the very point of Grotesque art. Unlike the satirist, the grotesque artist does not analyse and instruct in terms of right and wrong or true and false (satire=logical, grotesque=irrational), nor does he attempt to distinguish between these. On the contrary, he is concerned about demonstrating their inseparability. Satire generally aims at three reactions from the audience - laughter, anger or disgust - but it aims to produce these separately. The grotesque, however, produces a reaction of confusion. With satire, there is an alternation or distinction between laughter and the gross evil which arouses anger. With the grotesque, however, laughter, hatred and anger seem to meld.

Beyond this there are references to "Funny Face" and "Blow Up" (guess why), and Altman re-enacts a scene from De Sica's "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" with the same actors (Loren and Mastroianni). It's like the two lovers from De Sica's film (itself a film in which Loren and Mastroianni played multiple characters) stepped out of it and resumed their tale 40 years later in older bodies. Surprisingly, the same lead actors from Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" also appear, adding a dark tinge to Fellini's tale of those seeking "the good life".

Tactics like this create a further effect. The characters lose weight, becoming flat, depth-less images. Consider when the real Elsa Klensch is interviewed by Kim Basinger who plays an Elsa Klensch character or when "real celebrities" like Cher and Harry Bellefonte briefly appear but yet still come across as empty, screen representations of themselves. The film paints a world obsessed with the "image", but stresses that there are few "authentic" images. The supermodels of the 90s were clones, destratified personae, simulations of imagined and imagined bodies, part of man's ritualised games of narcissism. By the films end, even a naked repudiation of this narcissism becomes a form of narcissism.

7.5/10 – Two viewings required.
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An amusing shaggy-dog story, Emperor's New Clothes variety
Muskox535 January 2005
It's hard to understand why so many reputable critics have vilified this film, which is in Altman's Nashville mode—and indeed includes many of the elements that made that earlier film such a critical success. Both address the hypocrisy and viciousness of a big money-making industry, by interweaving a number of loosely connected stories acted by a large celebrity cast. Some of these stories work better than others, in both films; as a previous reviewer noted, in Pret-à-Porter, they all hinge on the central theme of betrayal, with a cumulative effect that is saddening as well as amusing.

The principal difference between the two films lies in the way they end. Nashville is closed off (to my mind, unconvincingly) by an assassination at a political rally. Ready to Wear ends with a breathtakingly beautiful, even erotic acting-out of the story of the Emperor's New Clothes, where almost none of the fashion-industry types realize that the bankrupt designer has clothed all of her models in...nothing. The only one who does get the joke is the clueless and incompetent reporter (Kim Basinger, from Texas, doing a fine retake on Geraldine Chaplin's annoying role in Nashville), who stalks off in a huff.

Apparently lots of critics stalked off in a huff, too. That's too bad, since the film has lots of good qualities. But you miss the point if you don't realize that it's all leading up to that big shaggy-dog-story punchline.
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The worst film by Robert Altman is still the best film of the year.
kylebengel24 April 2004
This review is written specifically for those who have not seen 'Pret-a-Porte' and are confused by the mixed reviews on this site and from the Critical Press in general. To you, I would say the following: Don't take my word for it...see it for yourself and figure out what YOU think of it. It is my opinion that the worst film from Robert Altman is still the best film of the year (with rare exceptions) and so, naturally, I would recommend this film to anyone. However, Director Altman does NOT make films for everyone. He often makes films for the 'Advanced' film-goer. His work is often dis-jointed and overlapping to an extent that it requires one to actually ay attention to the goings' on rather than to spoon-feed the answers to the audience. Couple this with his tendency to allow the plot and the character to meander, evolving slowly over the course of the film and you often get a movie that is distinctly 'un-Hollywood', which can turn some film goers off. So I would recommend that you not only sit through this film, but allow yourself to actually watch it without any preconceived ideas of how a movie is supposed to be. Then I think you will find a witty, sexy satire that is more about our own vanity and betrayal than it is about the fashion industry.

But like I said, don't take my word for it (or the words of anyone else, for that matter): If you are curious, please watch it. And make up your own mind.
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Robert Altman rules!
tomweber39 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This film is messy, disjointed and sprawling just as life is. I loved it so much when I saw it last night on Independent Film Channel, and was amazed that it got such horrible reviews. Oh well most of my favorite movies got horrible reviews.

Like most Altman films, this is a compendium of tiny little moments. He gets together an absolutely stunning cast and gives the actors their heads. More an actors' jam session than a movie. For an old Fellini fan like me, the scenes between Mastroianni and Loren are priceless. They are playing basically themselves, this is not a spoiler at all.

Vicious, sarcastic, funny as hell, right on target, this is Altman's take on the old folk tale "The Emperor's New Clothes". Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.
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isn't this all about betrayal?
drigms5 April 2004
Although some Altman films are more tightly focused on a unifying narrative thread, for instance Gosford Park or Cookie's Fortune, Pret-a-porter employs the over-lapping ensemble format perhaps best exemplified in Nashville and, to some extent, MASH. I wonder, however, whether some reviewers have not missed the point of this film. Although there is not linear narrative line, the film is unified by a theme -- that of betrayal. Everyone appears to be betraying someone else in this film, whether a spouse, partner, or close relation, and ultimately wrapped in the naked fashion parade -- the industry betraying its consumers. There are weak aspects of the "plot" to be sure, but also some great performances -- Richard E Grant stands out as a camp classic, while Rupert Everett convincingly plays straight. And how Sophia Loren manages to maintain poise, look stunning, and put in a good comedic performance while wearing hugely over-sized hats is beyond me.
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The Fashion Gospel According to Altman
EdgarST11 March 2006
Back in 1994, when Robert Altman made "Prêt-à-porter", he was 70 years old. He was one of the few important auteurs of a profession celebrating its first centennial. Again, the wise filmmaker's satirical approach (directed on this opportunity to the fashion world) was misunderstood. This time, the maestro pointed his finger to consumerism on a global scale, by covering a convention of the haute couture circle, in which fashion was the vehicle to expose the dehumanised materialism of contemporary world.

Starting with a prologue at Dior's in Moscow (which could be Rome or Paris), Altman described a multinational microcosm defined by its unrestrained marketing of material goods. Altman did not underestimate fashion as a key element in our lives: as a matter of fact, he used fashion as the clue to gain access to the film. As expected, "Prêt-à-porter" was not a paean to designers, models, photographers or fashion magazine editors. After the convention's creator unexpectedly dies, Altman and co-writer Barbara Shulgasser aimed at the surface of the fashion world, searching for its essence, for a trace of humanity, and led us to an unexpected ending, which is a sort of purification, a baring of the bodies and souls. Altman, at 70, knew very well that mankind's main alternative was (and is) the transparent ethics that radiates from pure spirits committed to preserve life on this planet, beyond fabrics and fashions.

To tell the story of this garment catharsis, Altman used as his stylistic technique the superficiality that permeates the milieu he's describing (one I know after working in a couple of such events in my youth.) Everything is bright and beautiful, but somehow it seems as if "nothing is happening." The audience is denied all the myths that have led many designers and models to haughtiness, so their attitudes become more vacuous, and their incentive to rapacious consumerism is more obvious. Being unable to speak of art or the "fashion essence" in a contemporary setting where commerce rules, Altman used a fragmented narrative, with overlapped dialogues –often improvised- as in his other reflections on the crisis of communication, a central theme in "Nashville." Altman is one of the few filmmakers who is able to reunite large casts and create characters of high sociological value (mainly in "McCabe & Mrs. Miller", "Nashville", "A Wedding", "Short Cuts" and "Gosford Park", and to a lesser degree in "HealtH" and "The Player"), but he is also averse to psychological realism, that old strategy inherited from the 19th century novel, and that some people still ask for in our post-post-modern world...

In this film, Altman relied on famous faces to construct a game of facades with few strokes, choosing among the best of them: those who are able to create a believable character with a few significant details, those who can go from the subtle –as the wine spot on a reporter's sweater- to the pompous, as the dark glasses of the Irish photographer or Sophia Loren's hats. On the other hand, he relied on the audiences' own information, making them interact with the film, adding data or making associations. For example, only those who have seen Vittorio de Sica's "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" and "Sunflower," can enjoy to the full the cinematic homage to Sophia and Marcello Mastroianni. Their story echoes "Sunflower", while there is a reprise of Sophia's strip-tease in "Yesterday…" with a different (and sad) effect on Marcello; or if you have been in an event like the one in the film, you may remember people as the characters played by Tim Robbins and Julia Roberts, two reporters who spend the whole event making love in their hotel rooms.

"Prêt-à-porter" is a good film, which contains some of the typical Altmanian digressions that some do not enjoy. But, as Andrei Tarkovsky once said: "When you are in front of a really major figure, you have to accept him with all his weaknesses, which become distinctive qualities of his aesthetics."
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A Rare Miss From the Master
DeanNYC7 February 2007
When you think of a Robert Altman film, what *should* come to mind are elements like bitingly sharp satire, clever takes on human interaction and a brilliant portrayal of the subject matter; in other words, a mirror is held up to the topic examined and reflected back to the audience with maybe a tweak, a twist or a knowing wink.

That's not the case with "Prêt-à-Porter" or "Ready To Wear," as it was released in its US theatrical run.

The problem with this film is a complete lack of focus and understanding about what happens during Market week in the fashion industry, what is important about it, and for this film, most crucially, what's interesting about it! The result shows that this time, the Auteur didn't do his homework.

The plot of the film is multi-layered, like all of Altman's work, so there's a lot going on, but each layer is more preposterous than the previous. Perhaps had only one of the threads been so off track, it could have still worked. However, with every element being a farcical storyline, it is simply too much to stomach.

Even with the all-star cast gathered on location in the City of Light, dealing with theft, love, murder, manipulation, a bald tattoo, a lot of champagne and a cliché about the sidewalks of that European capital, and... oh yeah! the world of fashion... you can confidently skip this chapter of the Altman story and know you didn't miss anything.
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Threadbare Altman
gbheron14 September 2003
I missed Ready to Wear when it was released in 1994, and finally rented the film. I had great anticipation. The fashion industry was the next to squirm under Mr. Altman's cinematic scalpel. Altman assembled a large, talented ensemble cast as usual. The locale is the annual prêt-à-porter fashion show in Paris, as a multitude of characters descend on hotels, fashion houses, restaurants, and runways; their stories intertwining and crisscrossing across a pastiche of interlocking plotlines. It'll be just like Nashville, in other words, another Altman tour de force.

Oddly and sadly, it's nothing of the sort. Ready to Wear loses its way early, and drifts aimlessly along for its lengthy 133 minute runtime. The characters lack the depth of his other films; they're poorly defined and you never really feel you get to know them. The dialogue is shallow and lacks bite. Even the little things tend to annoy; why use sidewalk dog poop as a unifying symbol? What's the point to that?

All in all I found Ready to Wear disappointing and probably my least favorite of Altman's films.
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Mr. Altman, wherever you are, we'll always remember you
lee_eisenberg23 November 2006
Robert Altman's death three days ago brings to mind not only his movies, but his unique style: letting people develop the characters themselves, and overlapping dialogue. In that sense, "Pret-a-Porter/Ready to Wear" is possibly the best example of his movies. One really gets the feeling that they just filmed whatever happened here. This story of a murder in the midst of a Paris fashion show pretty much does whatever it wants, and does a worthwhile job with it. Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, and a too-long-to-name list of other people.

So, in conclusion: thanks for everything, Mr. Altman! You were one of the greatest directors of all time!
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Interesting Homage
NJWolfgang30 August 2006
This is an interesting homage to the filmmakers who have gone before Altman and to the careers of many who dress up his celluloid clips. The writing misses, not that it doesn't create interesting sequences or moments, but it seems to go no where. But no one does this type of film better than Altman and even when Altman is bad there is always a lot to look at.

The film moves quickly but it always leaves you wanting more. The characters of Kellerman, Ullman and Hunt had they been developed could have been a film within a film and been an interesting comedic farce. Unfortunately that possibility is never realized. Stephen Rea's character is just plain annoying, there's no exaggeration and no depth and it appears he has one expression. Forest Whitaker is always a pleasure to watch because of the depth of his persona. Ruppert Everett does nothing more than come off as a spoiled little boy playing in an adult world. One bright note is Chiara Mastrioanni.

But then you move to the pro's. Loren and Mastroianni are delicious to watch. You can't help but watch the Diva Loren walk and talk. Mastroianni's puppy dog routine is endearing because it harks back to the film history they have created together. The homage to Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is particularly of note, not just because one is amazed at how well Loren still looks but because Altman takes the scene and puts a rather timely note to it. Lauren Bacall seems totally wasted as she wanders in and out of the goings on with no purpose. Jean Rochefort and Anouk Aimee probably get the acting laurels because they both manage to underplay while everyone else is over blown. Julia Roberts and Tim Robbins although set in an interesting situation become tiresome and their characters rather void of any color. Kim Bassinger is perfect as the announcer because she completely conveys her inability to comprehend the fashion world and still be in awe of those who inhabit that world. Danny Aiello's turn is probably the best realized character for laughs in the film while Teri Garr is totally wasted.

But that's the point of the movie. The fashion world is over blown and Altman has chronicled that in this film and yet at the same time managed to pay homage to some incredible film careers, films, and legends.
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Not half as bad as people say.
mullaryn3 March 2009
I was surprised to hear such malignant commentaries from those who have watched this film. Granted, it is not done in Altman's usual style, and may seem vague or shallow to some, but I believe that this is a misconception. The characters... some are rather undeveloped, but I have a hunch that this is on purpose. 2 hours is not enough to form a picture of a person, and so I think Altman made them so undeveloped because these are, when all is said and done, regular people. A large amount of correspondents, a few model designers, a bit of these, a few of those... the only character which seemed foolishly vague in my opinion was the Communist Italian. Apart from that, I only saw people that I would see on the street, or on some show, or some that I wouldn't see at all, that merely write stories which others publish and get credited for.

The theme of fashion design seems to be quite irrelevant here, or rather, it serves as the backdrop for an array of the aforementioned characters. Who cares about a fashion show when such drama is going on? Who cares who designed what dress when a mischievous Irishman is so irreverently teasing famous personages in such a hilarious manner? Who cares what outfit was voted best when two complete strangers are trying to sort out the mess their arrival was? All in all, I believe that this movie fits comfortably among Altman's successes. The story is gripping, logical, and possesses a vivid array of characters reminiscent of Guy Ritchie's films (yes, not exactly chronically correct: Guy Ritchie came later, but I just wanted to make the image.), and funny. An enjoyment from beginning to end.
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A great guilty pleasure
NeelyO15 September 1999
Okay, so this movie is something of a mess -- an enormous mess, even -- but it's such great eye-candy: movie stars wearing fab outfits and making fools of themselves.

But upon repeated viewings, when you realize this isn't going to be "Nashville," it's easier to open up to this movie's charms: Tracey Ullmann and Linda Hunt's rivalry, the dippy charm of the Julia Roberts/Tim Robbins relationship (just the thought of these two Major Players goofing off in Paris seems kind of loopy) and the best performances to date from Kim Basinger and Sally Kellerman.

This movie is no cure for cancer, but in the right mindset it's terribly entertaining (and maybe even entertainingly terrible, but who cares?).
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Fashion as metaphor
JuguAbraham16 October 2005
Appreciating Altman's cinema requires patient and attentive viewing. The more films of Altman one sees, the more one appreciates this wonderful man and his unique ability to create witty, cinematic essays on subjects such as weddings ("A Wedding"), the music industry ("Nashville"), the movie industry ("The player"), soldiers/doctors during wars ("MASH") to name a few, all with his stock ensemble of actors who often return to play bit parts in his works. What amazes me is that these actors return to play anti-heroes, often doing roles that are real and often portraying the follies of human beings rather than larger-than-life characters in movies that the average film-goer may mistakenly dismiss as droll.

Is "Pret a porter" a film on the fashion industry? Look closely, and the film merely uses the fashion industry as a backdrop for painting a larger canvas of human foibles. For instance, the dog faeces in this film (just as bird droppings in Altman's "Brewster McCloud") provide humor, social commentary and linkages between scenes that would seem disjointed in Altman's deliberate attempts at jumping from one scene to another and back in the midst of a conversation that other directors would have preferred to run its course. There is a method in Altman's madness. "Pret a porter" while taking swipes at the fashion industry, is equally poking fun at journalists who send "live" reports on the phone sitting in hotel rooms and translating TV news, of the hotel industry who provide identical suites with different fancy names in the same hotel, of high flying journalists/executives who fuss on details of their hotel rooms in identical ways by just throwing their weight around and appear discerning, of TV commentators (Kim Bassinger's character) who know very little of the subject they specialize in, etc. It is also a film that provides humor to the attentive viewer: "The murderer must have died from jumping in to the Seine. If he survived the jump, the pollution would have killed him" or the lengthy conversation on the pouffe skirts, which ends in "Are you pouffe?" The Julia Roberts-Tim Robbins sequences provide social commentary on contemporary love that goes beyond the world of fashion, as a counterpoint to the parallel sequence of Mastroanni and Loren as lovers of a past generation.

Though Altman has made better movies ("McCabe and Mrs Miller", " A wedding" and "Nashville"), this one is not an insignificant work. Linda Hunt, Tim Robbins, Julia Roberts may be playing roles of frail, pathetic personalities but they play those roles with sincerity and flourish. In my view, the film uses fashion as a metaphor. Using neckties to identify strangers, using clothes to make a social statement, photographing clothes/shoes of a murderer than his face, give more insight on people affected by fashion than the fashion industry. It requires more than one viewing--and definitely more if you viewed an edited for TV version, with 13-18 minutes lopped off, as I did!
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One big party for the cast; an oddity for viewers
Euphorbia10 July 2005
In the large and immensely distinguished cast of actors, singers, couture designers, fashion models, and lap dogs that Robert Altman assembled for this mad Parisian romp, only one of the participants actually does more than the most perfunctory acting. That one star is Kim Basinger. With her spirited portrayal of FAD-TV anchor Kitty Potter, she is the ringmaster of Altman's circus of multiple twisted and interlocking rings.

Is "Ready-to-Wear" a great movie, or what? What! No, it's not great, nor even very good.

Is it entertaining? Not really, not in any coherent sense. If you try to get involved in the plot, you will only get dog-doo on your shoe.

But it can be fun to watch, if nothing else to play the game called, "Come on, who IS that?" Robert Altman enjoys such godlike status among the Holloywood elite, that he was able to enlist some of the most sought-after A-list players of three generations to perform for him in Paris, or at least to show up for cameos. To play this game, print out the IMDb full cast list, then try to spot each one of the listed players in the movie.

Finally, even if you decide to fast-forward through "Ready-to-Wear," do slow down for the climactic runway scene. It is well worth the price of a rental, not that this scene has very much to do with the rest of the story (such story as there is). This scene does prove that if you are Robert Altman in 1994 (or Walerian Borowczyk in 1974) you can stage an extended scene of naked supermodels for a feature film, merely because you wish to. Rating: 7/10.

Somehow, the one movie that "Ready-to-Wear" most reminds me of is "And the Ship Sails on" ("E la nave va"), 1983, by Federico Fellini -- despite Fellini's cast of unknowns, and its low-budget operatic staging.
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I have a feeling we're not in Nashville anymore...
Junker-217 June 2000
If you think "Pret-a-Porter" ("Ready to Wear" for us unsophisticated types) is going to be Robert Altman taking you back to "Nashville" or "Short Cuts"...well, think again. Altman totally misfires here. Hey, even Mark McGwire strikes out now and then, Robert!

It seems as though Altman couldn't decide whether to make a comedy or a serious behind the scenes look at the fashion industry. So he ended up doing neither. There are very few laughs here. (None, in fact, is a pretty good estimate of the number). And the characters are so cartoonish, especially the way over the top gay fashion designers, that it couldn't possibly have anything serious to say about the real fashion industry.

Yes, there is a very, very good cast here. I think, however, Altman spent all of his time getting these talented actors and actresses rounded up, and none of his time working on a script. Why, for instance, does he put the always fun Teri Garr in this film, and then forget about her character for two-thirds of the movie?

Maybe someday someone will make a really good expose of the fashion industry. This is not it.
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Thank you Robert Altman for all your great work!
amaryken17 December 2002
Who else but Bob Altman has such a following of great talent--that is to say the vast array of talented actors and actresses who work on his films and love the guy. What more could be said about any man?

As for Ready To Wear, what a visual delight. The photography, the lighting and color is awesome. The acting is superb. The story is a hoot. I can't imagine anyone giving this movie a low grade, but then I can't imagine anyone being a simple-minded reactionary either.
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the antagonist to Pulp Fiction
elvetritsch29 March 2003
For me this movie is the antagonist to Pulp Fiction: It's underrated and while other commentators did fell asleep, I was fascinated all the time, especially the last scene and its sound track is marvelous, worth watching the whole movie.
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Freddie-617 January 1999
One of the most boring movies I have ever seen.Was it supposed to be a comedy or a drama?? .The high profile cast must have nightmares about this one. Even the presence of Julia Roberts could not raise any interest. Absolutely awful.
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