Mar. 19, 2006


it was angelina jolie in one of her more controversial -- but without a doubt, finest -- movie roles ever.

gia is a 1998 movie about top fashion model gia carangi, who graced the covers of magazines like vogue and cosmopolitan in the late 70's up to the early 80's. dubbed as the world's first supermodel (19-year-old cindy crawford was reportedly called "baby gia" for sporting a somewhat similar look - somewhat, of course, being the operative term), gia lived it up: booze, drugs and rather interesting sexual preference.

in november 1986, gia became one of the first women to die from acquired immune deficiency syndrome (aids). she was 26.

and where to begin describing how angelina jolie, all luscious lips and dangerous curves, was perfect in gia's shoes: the rebel at 17 with her spiked hair and tattoos; the fresh model clinging onto a barbed fence, naked, for a photo shoot; the lover kissing her make-up artist linda, as portrayed by elizabeth mitchell; the drug addict in rehab, straining on her bed in excruciating pain from withdrawal.

yes sir, the shoe fits quite perfectly, thank you very much. it could have very well been her own – she was that good.

two issues
the movie is rated r for graphic depiction of two things: drugs and sex.

gia, aside from being unbearably beautiful (angelina, as expected, was gorgeous regardless of angle, wardrobe and make-up – yes, it was actually unfair) was also a lesbian bisexual drug addict. she fell in love with her first make-up artist linda and was hooked to heroin use, the habit that eventually led to her contraction of a fatal disease via an infected needle.

the movie holds nothing back, as far as depiction of the two issues on-screen is concerned. and when i say nothing, i really mean nothing. angelina jolie has got to be the most alluring drug addict to ever grace the screen – half-lidded drugged eyes and red lips, in a japanese costume to boot.

(i leave out descriptions of the sex scenes deliberately – for your imagination. heh.)

the movie is pseudo-documentary in style – with actors posing as actual photographers, publishers and people gia knew and worked with in real life featured in a montage of interviews attempting to 'recreate' the character that was gia carangi.

the movie 'interviewed' gia's first boyfriend, the many photographers who have worked with her, magazine publishers and, of course, her mother – the one person who, in the end, really knew how to begin and end gia's story.

going back to the beginning of the film, i remember quite clearly gia's mother remarking that sons go have wives and leave you, but daughters you have forever. it was somewhat true for gia, who was eternally dependent on her mother – some scenes actually depicted her throwing tantrums over her mother's departure from her city apartment.

but other than perennially going back to her mother in desperate times (i.e. lack of money, etc), gia likewise returned, time and again, to that girl named linda.

eternal return
in one of her early photo shoots, gia consented to a nude pictorial even as the other models backed out, on one condition: that her make up artist, a pretty blonde girl named linda, also get naked with her.

(the scene: two naked girls kissing, a metal screen fence between them, camera and photographer behind linda. on a scale of hotness, one to ten – ten being the hottest – i give the scene a 12. hello, metal fences! go figure.)

i had not been able to watch the sex scene that came right after with full attention to details – i had taken in only glimpses of the curves, the shades of skin, dips of flesh, that kind, nothing more. curiously, very unlike the way with which i was able to watch the brief sex scene in brokeback mountain without flinching or blinking. blame it on sensory overload, perhaps. or to the fact that i was in fact watching it with two office mates on a slow sunday afternoon. or to the fact that... ok, never mind.

i had thought linda would shrug gia off – that morning after, she put her clothes on quickly, leaving by the elevator door a still very naked gia pleading for her to stay.

but what happened afterwards – a relationship that spanned for years, despite linda's several boyfriends and gia's severe drug problem – certainly wasn't a shrug off.

most of the scenes that struck me hardest involved linda's doorstep. in one scene, linda had come home with a boyfriend, and there gia was, waiting. the awkward encounter turned sexy then turned slightly violent with the drunk boyfriend reacting to linda and gia kissing by the doorway.

linda's parting shot was, "behold, the florist" – referring to the time her boyfriend had asked her if she was in fact seeing a florist on the side, judging from the volume of flowers she received every day.

but the more jarring scene involved a bruised and high gia in a bright red japanese costume, leaning against the doorframe. obviously, it was a drug session gone wrong, and when linda answers, "no," to gia’s almost inaudible, "is your boyfriend home?" slur, i take a moment to blink and swallow and.


then there's this shower scene that just broke my heart. suddenly, it wasn't even about two girls anymore – it was about two people in all their naked honesty, desperately trying to make something *work*. things like that make me sad, really. (and yes, familiarity.)

it wasn't really that much of a functional relationship – linda kept on trying to make gia choose between heroin and her, and gia always ended up high with the substance, and it was sad how some people couldn't give something like heroin (or cigarettes *cough*) up, not even for love.

it was a classic case of having something way too beautiful it was bad for you.

you were the (only) one
so gia gives herself up for rehab. somewhere along her treatment, she places a phone call to linda just to apologize to her for everything, and i'm like *this* close to tears.

later, she finds out about contracting the fatal illness, and she shows up at linda's apartment after several years of not seeing, talking, and jesus, i ask myself, is this how they'll see each other for the last time?

and it was. it was very heartbreaking, and saying that is completely trite even. linda was so happy to see gia again, she had to restrain herself from being over-excited, and knowing what i know, watching her be that happy broke my heart, really. gia didn't really tell her that she was sick, she just told her, "i don't have that much time."

half-heartbroken linda goes, "oh. i thought we had more time."


then, there’s this killer line, before gia goes finally, by the door, she tells linda that she was, she is – "you were the one. you were the only one. and you were amazing."

i blinked. took off my glasses and wiped them, put them back on and sniffled. jesus.