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A Loving & Insightful Star-Studded Tribute to Kevyn Aucoin
Years ago in high school a theater and makeup enthusiast classmate with a love of the different recommended one of Kevyn Aucoin's makeup books to me which I checked out from the library. Reading it, I was impressed with not just the intelligence of Aucoin's makeup techniques but with his sense of devotion to the beauty of the unique. He seemed to have a real earnest desire to make women care about their beauty which really resounded from the page.
Documentary "Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin's Story" does a good job of getting this same sense of what Aucoin hoped to inspire in people and of what he did inspire. It details his rise to fame, his eventual stardom and his capitulation from that stardom to the end of his days at the young age of forty due to a mixture of long term illness and an addiction to pain killer drugs. Aucoin is portrayed as a sweet but intense person, which made for his high charm but also the extreme of his co-dependency.
Family members, childhood friends, lovers, and many high profile models (Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Chrissy Turlington among others) make up the numbers of people who speak adoringly of Aucoin, but with the balance of their own observations to make. Other celebrities come to speak also, such as Cher and Tori Amos. Tori Amos in particular has thoughtful things to say about Aucoin and about the world of celebrity that let Aucoin down in the late stage of his career when perhaps in part due to his drug habits and some negative media attention many were instructed not to hire Aucoin, and they didn't.
Overall, "Larger than Life" is a loving, but keenly aware biography that doesn't focus on negative aspects of Aucoin's life but doesn't neglect the mention of such details that make his ultimate end understandable. One doesn't like to think Aucoin's life ended because of drugs, because he is so beloved in the makeup industry, but that it did doesn't mar the person Aucoin was and what he meant to do for others, which perhaps he could not do for himself as a few in the documentary seem to suggest. And that is think of himself as beautiful.
High marks for this documentary and the way it was assembled and the many perspectives it drew from. Aucoin kept many photos, journals and even video on which to draw from and so the documentary is as rich in Aucoin in his own vision as it is the vision of others.
As for criticism, I did think the 1hr 42min length was overly long, but this is forgivable because the narrative arc is never lost and the documentary as a whole is highly organized. If you are a staunch Aucoin fan you will appreciate the extra materials. If you have mild interest it will hold your attention overall. Aucoin had a rich life and a good mission and a great impact that you may not be entirely aware of. This documentary does do a good job of filling you in, like it did for me. While I have read one of Aucoin's book I didn't know just how far his fame went and what he did, and so the documentary was educational to me.
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