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TIFF 2023 Review: Lee

Former model Lee Miller transitions to being a news photographer for Vogue and documents the atrocities caused by World War II.

Tired of modelling and the French bohemian lifestyle, Lee Miller decides to pursue her true passion which is photography and the arrival of World War II provides her with the opportunity to expand her subject matter.  A partnership with Life photographer David E. Scherman, allows her to develop her photographic skills as well as have companionship while experiencing the devastation caused by warfare.

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The framing device is an elderly Lee Miller being prickly about being interviewed about her life and photography which suits the storytelling.   Kate Winslet does two things that showcase her lack of ego which is her willingness to bare all and to look unglamourous; she is there to act not for the audience to admire her beauty.  Though there are moments that demonstrate a free spirit, Winslet is embracing the aging process which has inflicted wear and tear both on body and soul.  However, this role does not belong in the pantheon of her great performances as that spark of electricity that has made her a generational actress seems to be missing.

Male chauvinism is unavoidable but it is refreshing to see surrealist painter and husband Roland Penrose (Alexander Skarsgård), and colleague David E. Scherman (Andy Samberg) providing a solid foundation of support for Miller.  There is something flat about the biopic that at times feels like it is going through the motions.  Granted there is a twist but that is not enough to have the viewer reevaluate everything on a more profound level.  The production does its best to get the desired scope considering the subject matter but the end result is not quite able to compensate for the extremely limited budget.

The 48th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7-17, 2023, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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