In the making of this 2019 documentary filmed by her son over the course of several years, Italian supermodel, mother of four, journalist/professor/activist, Marxist and finally ‘Women of a Certain Age Muse’ Benedetta Barzini’s wish to simply “just disappear” has, in a sense, been lost forever. The irony of this of course is, by no means lost on her-proving once again (as if we needed more) that a mother’s love knows no bounds.
One could be tempted to dismiss Barzini’s Garbo-esque desire to become ‘invisible’ with a ‘Sure, after 7 decades of leading the type of life that so often accompanies the gifts of exceptional physical beauty, you’ve now simply tired of the limelight’ but Barzini’s intriguing history and magnetic personality are far too complex and deeply layered to write off that easily.
Born into an extremely wealthy Italian family Benedetta lived on an entirely different floor of the NY apartment building in which she resided with her mother. For the most part she was raised by a succession of nannies & governesses and presented to her mother but once a week with little more interaction than to exchange a “Bonjour”. Her Italian born mother “hated everything Italian” to the point of not allowing her daughter to speak her native language at home, where only French and English were permitted. It was not a happy childhood. In her teenage years Benedetta became anorexic, a condition she has said in interviews from which one is never really cured but rather learns to control. She also lost her 1/2 brother to a botched politically motivated terrorist attack when he was 40 (he was attempting to set off a bomb) As I said, there’s a lot more to this woman’s story than a beautiful face.
But I don’t wish to lead you astray- as none of this is mentioned in the film. It is simply a quiet glimpse into the complex, loving relationship between a mother and son whose opposing opinions on the value of capturing images and lives and therefore memories in photos and film create an occasionally difficult but nonetheless captivating to watch documentary.
Particularly appealing is B.B.’s utter lack of vanity throughout the film, especially given all the recent social media talk and memes (in much needed humour of course) about greying roots and general beauty maintenance or lack thereof in ‘The Time of Corona’ lockdown. And I do mean utter as you’ll see at the very end.
Also fun is an adorable scene where her old modeling pal Lauren Hutton stops by for a visit and scolds Barrese for not putting his camera down.
Still ruling the runway decades after her first Vogue cover.
I’m sure if you’re anything like me (and you probably are because you’re here reading this 🙂 ) you will want to delve into Benedetta’s story more.
The documentary is available to rent or purchase on Apple TV
I’ll be back with more suggestions of things to do or watch or read or… whatever.
Have a great rest of the weekend. Stay safe and try to remain positive. #inthistogether