Doc-makers are a committed bunch, spending months, even a year or two following their subjects. Varon Bonicos went one further: he spent 12 years trailing British fashion designer Ozwald Boateng. Their subsequent friendship offered Bonicos terrific access, but ‘A Man’s Story’ is arguably less objective for it.
The film begins with an angry phone call from Gyunel, Boateng’s second wife. Flash back to the late 1990s and the focus is on his ailing business: stressing behind the scenes at fashion shows, talking about his passion for detail and the tailoring he’s now famous for. Then he meets model Gyunel and this becomes, in part, the story of a doomed romance. Frustratingly, it’s the only side of Boateng’s personal life that ‘A Man’s Story’ explores. There’s no probing documentarian behind the camera: opportunities for revealing follow-ups are missed. Sure, Boateng talks about his philosophy and goals as he jets around doing shows, charity work and dressing the likes of Laurence Fishburne. But Bonicos only touches on meaty biographical details such as the impact of being a young black man in ’70s London.
The narration is perfunctory and the editing indulgent: you get the feeling Boateng is only emotionally revealing when he chooses to be and that the filmmaker accepts that too readily. Fashion fans may find ‘A Man’s Story’ interesting, but even they may be disappointed by the lack of insight into the man and his process.