Prior to seeing the movie, my initial hope was for me to be able to get through it. Not only did I get through it, but I was glad I saw it. The Model is a Danish movie, from Danish filmmaker Mads Matthiesen, starring Danish model Maria Palm. A whole lot of Danish delight. The plot revolves around a young Danish girl named Emma (Palm) that leaves her small hometown and boyfriend behind to pursue modeling fame in Paris. She’s green to the industry and becomes a prime target for all the despicable men that are engrossed in the world of high-end fashion. Notably, a famous photographer, Shane White (Ed Skrein), who gets introduced to her through the industry.
Matthiesen delivers a startling look at the inner workings of the modeling industry. It’s undoubtedly an erotic thriller, but with plenty of content worthy of a documentary. Matthiesen navigates through the dreamy and exciting parts of the industry, all the way to the dark and ugly side, all while staying course with the changing of Emma’s personality. On the surface it’s easy to point to Emma as a victim of a semi-ugly industry, but her evolution as the film progresses flips the expectations and feelings for the character. She goes from a naïve, inexperienced, pure teenager to a manipulative, lost and enraged individual. Her transformation is quite imposing.
The film reminded me of Careful What You Wish For. Unlike Careful What You Wish For, The Model has a lot more of a reality-based feel to it. Often times you hear about disturbing stories or read articles about the world of modeling, where a young teenage girl gets used and taken advantage of by these older men. This film is an up-close look into that harsh industry. It’s crafted in an honest and realistic way, it made me feel as if I was getting a peek behind the curtain of what actually tends to happen.
This is a highly erotic movie but to the filmmaker’s credit, the sexualization doesn’t go over-the-top, and it is attempted as tastefully as possible (including an uncomfortable rape scene). The nudity and sex in the movie isn’t just there to be there, it actually is included to set-up and further the plot.
I was very surprised to find out that this was the first ever film performance by Palm. She is an actual model with no prior acting experience. She’s more than believable in the film. Looking back, that was a great casting choice, considering an actual actor might not have had as good of a grasp and connection to the modeling industry as an actual working model would. She does a great job internalizing the life of a model and brining it to the screen. Playing opposite of Palm was Ed Skrein, a rising talent that’s recently been making a name for himself in that states in movies such as Deadpool and The Transporter Refueled. Skrein works seamlessly with Palm, they have some nice chemistry, although most of their scenes are somewhat volatile.
The Model is one of those films you can’t seem to take your eyes off. It had me engaged throughout the ugly, sexy and suspenseful parts. Aside from giving an honest and first hand look behind the scenes of the modeling industry, the film does a great job of blurring the inevitable. I flipped and flopped debating if Emma was a victim, antagonist or both? The takeaway is that as alluring as the modeling industry can be, the disturbing darkness of it is waiting around the corner to pounce on the young and naïve. There are multiple messages you can take away from this film. The main one being, BE CAREFUL MODELS! Once inside that world, it can easily change who you are and who you will become (as evidenced by Emma). That aspect is well depicted.
Overall, it is a movie that is suspenseful and intriguing, with a high dose of sexuality. Had this been a Hollywood film, I bet it wouldn’t be as crafty and impactful as it ended up being. It’s one of the best erotically charged thrillers of the year. Beauty, fame and the ugly side of it. Glad I gave it a chance, as you should also.