The fashion industry is ripe for satire, and Garmento is not the film to do it. Writer/director/producer (yes, an ominous sign, if any) Michele Maher does have some industry experience, but doesn't translate the experience well to film. Garmento may be true to life, but is it also boring. Worse, there is no point to mock the industry if the film itself is only intermittently funny. The film is about the firm of Poncho Ramirez, once on top of the world but now struggling to reinvent itself to again become a critical and commercial success. The story is told through the eyes of Grindy Malone (Katie MacNichol, Bamboozled, Bury the Evidence), the new assistant at Poncho Ramirez.

As a child, Malone was in awe of Poncho Jeans, the hottest fashion item to own. She was never able to afford them, and in the intervening years, Poncho fell into obscurity. Now, she finds herself working for Ronnie Grossman (David Thornton, Swept Away, John Q.), one of the movers and shakers at the firm. The world of fashion is completely alien to her, filled wit strange (and contrived) characters, all of whom are ruthlessly ambitious in their goals. Poncho himself (Juan Hernandez, High Crimes, Rum and Coke) epitomizes the weird, moody head. The firm is looking for a new hit product, when Malone suggests they start producing jeans again, then the film sputters into motion.

The satirical elements revolve around the firm's attempt to climb its way to the top by any means possible. There are a few biting moments, but of it is just bland. In order to get extra money, they team up with some other people who begin exerting pressure. They try to come up with controversial advertising to generate publicity. The most amusing aspect is probably how they come up to a solution to their shortage of denim. Initially, the film seemed like it would be about how the cutthroat fashion industry changed Malone corrupted her, but her character, and every other character for that matter, is too ill defined.

For an independent feature, it has a couple of things going for it. The acting caliber is pretty decent, considering the probably miniscule budget. It also looks fairly well. Unfortunately, Maher herself is the undoing of Garmento, because of her relative inexperience in film. The story is shaky and in need of some serious rewriting. Although it clocks in at a brisk 87 minutes, it still feels long. And her directing is still raw and unfocused. In fact, it is difficult to tell whether Garmento is what it is because Maher is so new and still learning, or if she's just bad. Time, and more movies, will tell.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 27 minutes, Rated R for, well, nobody seems to know, but probably some language.

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