You don’t generally expect actors with profiles like Ben Kingsley and Helena Bonham Carter to show up in a three-and-a-half minute short. They have the kind of clout and respect that they can whatever the hell they want. HBC is married to Tim Burton, and Kingsley is both a knight and the villain in a Marvel movie, for crying out loud. Then again, when the short in question, “A Therapy,” is directed by Roman Polanski, not to mention bankrolled by Prada, such a cast starts to make a bit more sense.
As you probably imagined, fashion is at the forefront of this 2012 short, from the sharp suit of Kinglsey’s nonverbal therapist to Bonham Carter’s vivid purple and red ensemble. And oddly enough, there are a number of Prada labels prominently featured here.
More than your average short film, this a commercial, but Prada’s not your run of the mill clothing manufacturer, so you don’t expect them to deliver an average advertisement. This isn’t the first time they’ve employed notable filmmakers to help hawk their wares, either. Last year Wes Anderson directed a similar short called “Castello Cavalcante,” which starred Jason Schwartzman. But this isn’t a new thing, or even a Prada thing, as Lincoln recently commissioned “Drive” and “Only God Forgives” helmer Nicolas Winding Refn and Matthew McConaughey for a series of ads, and BMW convinced John Woo and Clive Owen to team up for the brief actioner “Hostage” all the way back in 2002.
At its core, this may be marketing, but it’s really classy marketing. The music, the camera moves, the composition and framing, they’re all pure Polanski. Not to mention the strange tone and Sir Ben Kingsley caressing a purple fur coat. Here’s what the “Venus in Fur” director has to say about “A Therapy”:
A game, a thought, that through friendship and mutual respect has become true. When I was asked to shoot a short movie for Prada, I did not think that I could really be true to myself, but the reality is that in the total freedom I was given, I had the opportunity to reunite my favorite group of people on the set and just have fun
The chance to dwell on what the fashion world represents nowadays and the fact that it is accompanied by so many stereotypes is fascinating and at the same time a bit upsetting, but you definitely can not ignore it.
It’s very refreshing to know that there are still places open to irony and wit and, for sure, Prada is one of them. [35MM]