Woodshock Review
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Film and fashion share a strong connection. From red carpet looks to a film’s costume design to fashion designers turned filmmakers, the two art forms often go hand in hand. And in Woodshock, Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy attempt to make the transition to filmmaking—with bewildering results.

Woodshock follows the cloudy, drug-fueled story of Theresa (Kirsten Dunst), a woman who’s struggling with her grief after assisting in her mother’s death using marijuana laced with poison. As she continues to live in her mother’s home and work at her small Northern California town’s dispensary, she begins taking some dangerous drugs—and it causes her life to become more and more of a haze. And, eventually, her drug use turns tragic when she accidentally gives a fatal dose to the wrong customer.

As fashion designers, the Mulleavy sisters are known for their imaginative and unconventional creations—and they certainly bring that unconventional style to their directorial debut. Woodshock is a remarkably hazy film—in its appearance, in its tone, and especially in its storytelling.

The setting is cold and dreary, often ambling through the fog-covered forests, where Theresa’s boyfriend earns his living by cutting down redwoods. Everything here seems to be in shades of beige and gray. And as Theresa goes through the film in a blur of grief and drugs, the film is appropriately (though not necessarily enjoyably) detached and obscure. So much is done here in the name of art—and the visual aspects of the film seem to fit quite well with the directors’ fashion line. But that doesn’t exactly make for a strong, compelling film.

In the midst of the film’s drug haze, it’s the story that suffers the most. Very little happens here—and the majority of the story is made up of hints and suggestions. Mostly, it’s a muddled mess of angst, hallucinations, and Dunst in various dreary poses. Admittedly, there are some artistic moments—and Dunst does the best she can with what she’s been given. But those few striking moments can’t make up for the whole heavy, tedious mess.

Fashion often plays an important part in the world of film. But the Mulleavy sisters work so hard to make Woodshock edgy and fashionable that they forget to make it coherent. And instead of stylish and compelling, the designing duo’s directorial debut is generally slow and pretentious and agonizing to watch. If you really love Rodarte fashion and want to see the designers in action, pull up some videos of their latest runway show instead.

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