Jan. 23 (UPI) — Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields , which opened Friday at the Sundance Film Festival, is a sweeping portrait of an artist and a man that spans many aspects of culture.
This two-part documentary uses Shields as a lens to examine the sexualization of young women.
Shields spoke about her career and personal experiences in an on-camera interview. Friends, colleagues and journalists also help to place the experience in a social context.
There's a lot to cover in 136 minutes in two parts. In this documentary series, every important moment in Shields' life is highlighted in a few minutes.
The cultural analyst notes that when Shields first modeled as a child in the 1970s, beauty standards had shifted from voluptuous adults to young, sexualized girls. She only worked for Shields, but looking back, she could see the position she held.
Shields' 1978 film Belle featured her as an 11-year-old prostitute. Hearing his co-star Keith Carradine give him a comfortable kiss is now terrifying, even though Carradine isn't in the documentary to talk about it.
The documentary proves that Shields and her mother, Terri, drew criticism for allowing Shields to appear in the film. Director Louis Malle does not.
When Terry and Brooke sued a photographer for publishing nude photos of Brooke he took when she was 9, the defense accused Brooke of being a young sex kitten. Brooke admits that she was forced to grow up and then punished for it.
While studying at Princeton, Shields had the opportunity to write her first book. He understands what many young writers find out when editors and publishers want different things.
Shields shares her insightful observations about college. The editor is looking for leg warmers and diet tips.
The headlines revealed that Shields was talking about Michael Jackson in a documentary series. He spreads what he believes to be rumors about himself for the sake of his image.
Other relationships with men illustrate how Shields' image in the industry may have affected how real-life partners value her, as well as how she sees herself in relationships.
When Shields opened up about her rape, she alluded to how societal messages make women question their guilt about being sexually assaulted. This applies to all women, not to mention the women who work in the same systems that perpetuate the chaos.
The documentation also shows the work required to reverse this condition in adulthood. Shields didn't do it alone. He is helped and supported by his friends.
Shields' birth and postpartum struggles continue to show the pressure she puts on herself as the industry pushes her to succeed. She saw infertility as something she had to work with, and postpartum depression blindsided her.
Shields opened up about postpartum depression in her book Down Came the Rain and shared details about the shockingly violent thoughts she had. The documentary series reveals that it also talks about society's expectations of women, this time towards mothers.
Mothers are promised a magical bond with their newborn, but Shields has a different experience. From then on, he is still slandered by the lords, but he stands his ground.
Decades of career and personal upheaval don't always lead to a place of resolution, but to a place of progress. The camera captures a poignant conversation between Shields and her daughter that suggests these issues are being resolved in favor of healthy ideals, but it's still a work in progress.
Brooke Shields is certainly an interesting enough personality to warrant a detailed biographical documentary. The social context of the young model-turned-actress-turned-author-lawyer also sheds light on what the experience taught the world about Shields and her about the world.
Hulu will release Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields after Sundance.
Fred Topel, who attended Ithaca College's film school, is a Los Angeles-based UPI entertainment writer. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Learn more about his work in the world of entertainment.