Metro Weekly

‘Leon’ Review: Reel Affirmations 2023

Wojciech Gostomczyk's documentary 'Leon' ultimately comes off as too disjointed, bizarre, and avant-garde for a wider audience.

Thierry Mugler’s name is synonymous with haute couture. Before his unexpected death in January 2022, Mugler dominated the fashion world, creating looks for Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, Madonna, George Michael and other celebrity icons from the seventies to present day.

He also created fragrances that continually rank among the top-selling scents for all sexes.

Unless both individuals are celebrities, it’s commonplace for the spouse/partner of a well-known personality to be less known — and in some cases, mostly invisible.

Such is the case with Krzysztof Leon Dziemaszklewicz, long-time partner to Manfred Thierry Mugler and the subject of director Wojciech Gostomczyk’s documentary Leon (★★☆☆☆).

It’s impossible not to be jolted into a state of awareness within seconds of watching Leon. If you think you’ve seen it all, question whether you’ve ever noticed a full framed, bald, older gentleman painted head to toe in aquamarine body paint with silver lipstick and eye liner, self-adhesive gem stickers, and an elaborate white neck piece made of plastic sewing needles strutting on a beach while he coos and caws like a pigeon.

Performance art is the modus operandi for this Polish artist, whose boyfriend was the late designer. Although the two had what appears to have been a healthy, caring, and loving relationship, there was obviously a sense that Leon would not melt into the background. Instead, he would create his own outlandish looks, many of which involved body paint, honey, soil, and various other elements. The results are quite shocking.

Gostomczyk captures the essence of companionship and intimacy, but he never explains who most of the people are in Leon and Thierry’s orbit. An overly long scene involves their female friend who sings karaoke, but we’re never told who she is or what role she plays for them.

The remaining characters are quickly glossed over and we don’t really know why Gostomczyk focuses the camera on them. Nor do we understand why so little time is devoted to Thierry’s death and Leon’s mourning.

Leon is the type of film that will appeal exclusively to fashionistas and/or performance artists.

Although it does delve into universal issues that concern the insecurities of aging, depression and substance abuse, and the loss of a partner, it ultimately comes off as too disjointed, bizarre, and avant-garde for a wider audience.

Leon plays exclusively in the Virtual Festival through Oct. 29.

Reel Affirmations 2023 includes the Virtual Film Festival, providing online access to 43 films for those film lovers who cannot attend the festival in person, with a viewing window from Oct. 23 to 29.

Browse the full Virtual Festival catalog here.

Buy Virtual Festival passes here.

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