Gia (1998)

Angelina Jolie, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mercedes Reuhl

An HBO production about the life of America’s first super model Gia Carangi who died of AIDS at the age of 26, having contracted it from an infected needle whilst taking Heroin.

This film is done in a dual format of conventional film, like any usual production, intersected with ‘interviews’ by people who knew her during her life. It is all, theoretically, taken from actual accounts and Gia’s diary entries. In a way  I think that this brings an added reality factor to it, lowering the abject seriousness of the piece whilst making it real enough so that the audience probably paid more attention to what the film was saying than if it had been purely ‘film’ format.  It’s a fine line to tread, teetering between serious and making it a step back from reality and I cannot fully decide whether or not it was wholly successful, but no matter.

Given that I had never heard of Gia before this film, I cannot state with any certainty how accurate it is. Nevertheless it is moving, funny, romantic and ultimately incredibly tragic. If nothing else is gained from this film a vague sense of the perils of drug use and the harsh realities (a word I use fairly lightly) of the modelling world are highlighted. Oddly the issue of her having AIDS isn’t made into a huge insurmountable thing, it’s about her life not her illness. I appreciated that the focus wasn’t on how AIDS can ravage a person and the associated illnesses etc.

This is not a lesbian film per se, that element whilst a big part of it, is almost incidental, just another facet of the life of Gia, her life, lust, love, death… and the sheer driving force that she was. In parts it is an incredibly hard film to watch, in others it is playful and sensual, with Linda (renamed, the original makeup artist was called Sandy Linter) and Gia as the driving force behind these interactions.

It is clear that the modelling industry, and indeed her life in general, were not entirely kind or beneficial to Gia, who was badly treated and given minimal support, a sad thing for someone who was essentially a child when she started working. It is easy to speculate that she might not have found herself on the path she did, if she had been better supported, but that sort of thinking is pretty much irrelevant, it’s too late, it all happened and now, sadly, she’s gone.

The relationship she had with ‘Linda’ is probably the best Gia had, despite their ups and downs, Linda seems to have been, from a filmic perspective, the truest and most real love Gia had for anyone, excepting perhaps her mother in the last part of her short life. Despite Gia’s interest, she and Linda were somewhat on again off again, due to the fact that initially Linda had a boyfriend, when the two women spilt up later it was mainly due to Gia’s increasing dependency on drugs, it wasn’t that Linda wouldn’t support her in coming off them, but couldn’t live with her using whilst they were together. I think this only emphasises that Linda loved Gia, and that she was strong enough to say no drugs in the relationship and stick with that, despite how the film illustrates how hard it was for her to do that.

Throughout the film, there is a strong fairytale element, starting from when Gia was little girl and always write the same ‘stories’ in her diary “Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess…’ despite her desires her life was certainly no fairytale, and because of that, perhaps it was better that her life was as short as it was. Which could be considered to be a very callous thing to say about a young girl who died of AIDS and isn’t particularly what I meant, just her life seemed so sad and fraught with things that just shouldn’t be.

Jolie made an amazingly destructive, beautiful and ultimately broken Gia, whilst Elizabeth Mitchell stirred the hearts of lesbians everywhere with her sensual and strong femme portrayal of Linda, who was strong enough for the both of them.

7/10 for enjoyment and interest in the film.

8/10 for the film style, quality, depth and performances.

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About Nerdsbian

I am a nerd for ALL seasons. I am a genderqueer Librarian who unsurprisingly likes reading...a lot But I love being outside too...sometimes even reading at the same time. Also animals, any and all of them. Never yet met one that didn't get on with me and vice versa. I do a couple of different voluntary jobs (animal charity related) and have recently completed my MA.
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