Gia Carangi shot to fame as a supermodel in the late 70s and featured on the cover of VOGUE. Although she's remembered now, if at all, as a lesbian fashion icon, it's worth remembering that the better known Cindy Crawford was first referred to as Baby Gia. Gia was, in other words, the benchmark for all the supermodels we're familiar with. Her story is, however, tragic. Born into a troubled home, a teenage punk, openly gay, her candour was unsuited to the reality of professional modelling. This HBO TV movie simplifies the story arc while simultaneously protesting that Gia was too complex to be analysed. In fact, according to this film, her decline began when the woman she loved refused to be outed, and was precipitated when her mentor and manager died. In sadness, Gia turned to drugs, and died at 26, a burned out, HIV-infected smack addict.
I was rather surprised at the simplistic story arc given that the movie was written by Jay McInerny. Sure, Angelina Jolie commits to her role as Gia, and Elizabeth Mitchell and Faye Dunaway are fine as lover and mentor respectively. But the only real interest and complexity comes from Mercedes Ruehl's portrayal of Gia's vainglorious but flighty and selfish mother. I would have preferred to have seen more of Gia's childhood and teenage years - more of this relationship. But in this movie, all we get is a rather cliched scene in which a young Gia (Mila Kunis) shepherds her brother away as her parents have an argument.
All in all, a rather disappointing, unambitious biopic of an undoubtedly interesting and important figure.
GIA is an HBO TV movie that has been released overseas on feature DVD.
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