All Is Vanity
All Is Vanity tells the story of a photographer (Sid Phoenix), an intern (Yaseen Aroussi), a model (Isabelle Bonfrer) and a makeup artist (Rosie Steel), working on a shoot together in a London warehouse. But when one of their number goes missing under mysterious circumstances, tensions rise.
At least, that’s how it starts. As the film goes on, additional narrative layers are added on top of one another, plots nestling within plots to create a very complicated and surreal tale. At times the writing can get a little pretentious, but it’s pretentious in a very self-aware way, poking fun at its own narrative as it unfolds. The writing is also bolstered by strong performances from its cast, who work well with the meta-narrative layers and perfectly sell their multi-faceted roles.
With a runtime of 72 minutes All Is Vanity also doesn’t overstay its welcome, making its abstract plot points more accessible and helping it run smoothly without overindulging.
Appropriately enough for a flick focused on photography, the cinematography is excellent, playing with composition and lighting in a number of engaging ways to give the warehouse studio setting its own distinct personality, which makes it as much a character as the cast. The camerawork also serves to highlight the isolation in this single setting, elevating the tension and claustrophobia to bring out the unsettling sides of an innocuous space.
All Is Vanity is definitely an ambitious piece, trying to juggle a number of narrative threads and tell a story made of smaller stories. This is something of a tall order, but the film manages to pull it off on the strength of its talented cast, stylish cinematography and self-aware script, presenting a complex but fascinating production with its tongue firmly in its cheek.
All Is Vanity does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch a clip of All Is Vanity here: