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Film Reviews Daisy: The Story of a Facelift, produced by Michael Rubbo and Giles Walker for the National Film Board of Canada. 16 mm / VHS, 58 minutes, color. Distributor: Filmmaker's Library Inc. Daisy: The Story of a Facelift is a disturbing and provocative film with potential for analysis as an interesting document for contemporary social and cultural history. The production offers glimpses of Daisy de Bel lefeuille, a woman evidently in her mid-fifties, who has decided to forego the advice of her friends and co-workers by having her face lifted. One irony that she points out is that in an era of apparent liberation, she is a very successful business woman who would "desperately love to be married" instead. She tells us that she never wanted a career. Another paradox that immediately confronts the viewer is that Daisy is also very beautiful for her age; outwardly, she is doing nothing wrong but growing old. This, of course, is the point that the filmmakers are focusing on as we follow Daisy in her attempt to address the aging process and the way it makes her feel. Early on, Daisy tells us that getting old "terrifies her" so she sets out to do something about it and to make changes; in turn, her immdeiate and heartfelt response is to alter her appearance instead of her attitude. She is reaching out in the only way that she knows. Daisy is also the survivor of three divorces and has now decided that it is time to open up a "new chapter" in her life. At several junctures in the movie, the filmmakers try to broaden Daisy's case by making a number of digressions into the historical and socio-cultural background of how looks and surface appearances affect the way that we as humans behave and interact, especially in modern American culture. A brief trip to the New York Public Library lets us know that the "art" of physiognomy, or judging the human character by facial features, has been a part of western civilization for at least four hundred years. The film recounts historical examples of how facial and bodily characteristics have been used as signs of intelligence, antisocial tendencies, mental deficiencies, and emotional disturbances. At times, people with facial features 46 resembling particular animals were even thought to have temperaments that were then associated with specific animal species. A much more effective strategy, however, involves the interviewing of additional people who have also decided to have cosmetic surgery for one reason or another, including an ex-Playboy bunny, a man named Peter who has decided to have his face lifted after losing 120 pounds; and many many women who are having either breast implants or their noses bobbed. Daisy is far from alone in having such insecurities about herself and her appearance and in going to such excessive lengths to reconcile these feelings. We also see what is graphically involved in plastic surgery; the permanent risks, the incisions, the removal of fat, and the tightening of flesh. It is an instructive and frightening commentary that would serve as a useful visual aid is, classes that cover U.S. cultural history, popular culture, or women's studies topics. My strongest reservation about this picture is not with its subject matter, which is both telling an inherently dramatic. Instead, the attitude of the interviewerfilmmaker limits the degree of insight that is possible into Daisy. This movie is meant to be an exploratory study of Daisy, her motives, and any broader implications that might be uncovered as a result. The interviewer-filmmaker doesn't just let the answers unfold on their own, however, as he gives us his own value judgements in a glib and patronizing way. In the end what he surmizes about the broader, cultural questions is evident, but, unfortunately, Daisy remains a dilemma. A filmmaker genuinely sensitive to her feelings and fears, and more compassionate about her need to have a facelift, could have drawn a fuller and more complex portrait of Daisy than the one presented here. Despite this flaw in scope and vision, this documentary is nonetheless a stimulating and thought provoking experience. Gary Edgerton: Goucher College 47...


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