Sunday, May 23, 2021


TV Show Name:
Year of Release: 2021
Creators: Sharr White
Directors: Daniel Minahan
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Dayan, David Pittu, Krysta Rodriguez, Gian Franco Rodriguez, Bill Pullman, Sullivan Jones, Maxim Swinton, Molly Jobe, Rory Culkin, Megan Gerald, Sietzka Rose, Eric T. Miller, Jason Kravits, Shawna Hamic, Mazin Akar, Jarrod Spector
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
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Synopsis and Review: 
Following a few documentaries on the life of celebrated fashion American designer Roy Halston, Ryan Murphy has produced a mini-series tracking his ascent and his demise, for Netflix. The mini-series introduces glimpses of Halston's childhood in Iowa, before focusing on his first glimpse of fame, when as an employee of Bergdorf Goodman's he designs the hat which is worn by Jacqueline Kennedy on the President's inauguration in 1961. When the hat daze fades away, he secures the financial backing of Estelle Marsh, a millionaire who allows him to open his first store. As he starts designing his first collections, his ambitions cement further and further. By 1969 he launches his ready to wear collection, and he becomes tremendously popular, something that is also aided by his close relationship and friendship with Liza Minnelli. His personal relationships however suffer, as he is unable to open up, be vulnerable and create meaningful attachments with the partners he has. During the 70s he is able to expand his empire, across a variety of products and venues, but simultaneously so does his partying and excessive drug usage. As the 80s start and new designers come into play, he decides to sell his brand and form an association with JC Penney, which is the beginning of the end. His behavior, his mercurial temper, who isolated him from his long life friends, is kept in check by the organization, that eventually pushes him out of the brand itself. As he himself comes to term with the AIDS epidemic, he decides to quietly move away from NY and go to California and spend time with his family.
"Halston" as one can witness from the documentaries focused on his persona can attest, had an over the top life, particularly during the 70s, where stunning clothing, mixed with high style partying and larger than life celebrities, all mixed in to form a swirl of energy and decadence. The mini series manages to a large extent to bring some dimension to the character, largely due to Ewan McGregor's impeccable performance, which adds layers of vulnerability, mixed with anger, narcissism and longing, more so than the show wants to focus on. The mini series for the most part, captures the loose feel of the 70s quite well, the same going for the sexual liberation, and progressive impact of the fashion world, but it ultimately fails to register more deeply since the characters, aside from Halston, are nothing more than mere sketches. His relationships with his partners are barely focused on, as are the relationships he establishes or fails to establish later in his career with his employers. That last part in particular, could have played as a tragedy in itself, as a King of his domain, who is progressively shunned, shut out of his kingdom, only to find himself alone. While the narrative manages to give an interesting glimpse of the ascension Halston goes through, the downfall is illustrated rather rapidly and without much consequence to it. There's an overall superficial look at the veneer of this personality, without trying to really capture what went beyond the facade. The supporting cast of the show is equally solid, with David Pittu, Krysta Rogriguez, Gian Franco Rodriguez and Bill Pullman, providing a good compliment to Ewan McGregor's charismatic centerpiece. From a directorial perspective, the series is somewhat generic, but does manage to showcase the impeccable production design from Mark Ricker. Watchable, but forgettable.