Hot off arguably the biggest year of his career, Andrew Haigh has secured his next project, and its what you might call a whopper. The English-born director is set to helm a biopic of the late, great fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who took his own life in 2010 following the death of his beloved mother. Openly gay and a rather famous drug addict, McQueen was brought up in a middle-class household, the son of a taxi driver, and went onto apprentice as a tailor on Savile Row before breaking out and ultimately becoming head designer for Givenchy. He designed and tailored suits for Prince Charles, Mikhael Gorbachev, and, most notably, David Bowie, while the late, iconic glam rocker was on tour for his album Earthling in the mid-to-late 1990s. The film’s script is courtesy of Chris Urch, who has been the toast of the English theater as of late.
45 Years is the first of Haigh’s films not to confront the nuances of life as a homosexual; Haigh himself is openly gay and married to novelist Andy Morwood. His debut film, Weekend, dealt with a short-lived romance between two men who met at a club, and achieved a rare kind of intimacy between the two characters, even if Haigh’s style consistently goes for a tinny kind of no-frills realism. Visually, 45 Years and Looking, his fascinating yet repetitive HBO series, similarly leave quite a lot to be desired but each narrative remains staggeringly compelling due to Haigh’s work with actors.
We won’t know who is playing McQueen for a bit, more than likely, and there’s no real telling as to what part of McQueen’s life will particularly interest Haigh on this go-around. What is initially promising, however, is the focus on a designer – a person who must think about how things look and fit, first and foremost. Such a subject might bring out a more ambitious and audacious side of Haigh, allowing his imagery to actually match the pitch of the drama. Even if he remains plain in his aesthetics though, there’s little doubt that his take on McQueen’s life will remain as gripping and haunting as 45 Years.