Although I pride myself on not having much of an interest in the concept of celebrity, I am powerlessly drawn to the work of Chloë Sevigny. Her effortless style is matched by an interest in the obscure and bizarre, and I constantly find myself in awe of the roles she plays in groundbreaking films like Kids and Boys Don’t Cry.
On a random scroll of facebook the other day I stumbled across a clip from one of her more recent films, an independent work called Lying. Although I was warned by friends that the plot was dying-turtle slow and almost completely free of dialogue and events, I decided to give it a chance, for Chloë’s sake.
I found myself completely lost in the dreamy landscape of upstate New York, where complicated relationships form between five women who hardly know one another, but find themselves isolated together at a quiet country home for a weekend. The plot thickened as I began to realize Chloë Sevigny’s character, Megan, is a pathological liar. Although it has no concrete plot, and as I learned later, no script, Lying explores the awkward feeling of trying to hold a conversation with people you don’t actually know, and the complexities involved in coming to know someone better.
Although I didn’t feel particularly drawn into this plot (to say I was fighting off sleep would be an understatement) something kept me awake and completely enthralled: the clothing. Every scene is laden with dream-worthy clothing that helps to enhance the gorgeous scenery, especially in parts like the dress-up scene, in which the five friends dress up in high-necked, floor length vintage gowns from Megan’s deceased mother and run around the house searching for a mysterious sound they can all hear but cannot locate. They were, in short, the kind of dresses you wish your great grandmother had saved for you from 100 years ago.
Other jaw-dropping ensembles include the boyscout-like outfits worn when Chloë’s character makes her own art film about feeding African babies in a field, and a pair of sweatpants worn on various occasions that can be either pink or white depending on which way the wearer stands and what angle you are looking at them from. On one lazy afternoon a drunken croquet game ensues, in which one character sports a short white dress with a lace bodice and a short kimono sleeve that I want to own so badly I was trying to find a way to jump into the screen and snatch it off the actor’s body.
What drew me so deeply into the wardrobe of this film is the way the clothing is used to enhance the unreal feeling of the plot. The entire film seems to be under a spell — an enchantment of prettiness that I am always hoping will be put on my everyday life. This whimsical world, with the help of some fairy-worthy garments, gave me a window into a reality so full of pastels and magic that I thought for a moment I was watching Little Audrey. When I get dressed in the morning I always imagine where the outfit will take me and what will happen; if I were to wear a frilly dress, Lying is exactly where I’d hope to go.
From outdoor dinner parties at long white dining-room tables to afternoons spent lazing in hammocks, these five ladies are constantly head-to-toe in whimsical lace dresses, floral short-shorts with floppy hats and clunky rainboots that would make anyone long for a day away in the isolated countryside. After spending over an hour in a trance-like state, transfixed by the wonderland of beauty on the screen in front of me, I wanted nothing more than to build a fort, throw on a vintage nightgown and have my own white-wine slumber-party with friends. Don’t worry, you’re all invited; especially you, Chloë Sevigny.
- Alyssa Garrison