Hot Docs 2012: Laura

Laura hates Laura. Which is actually probably the most interesting thing about the movie. The South American turned New Yorker uses her charm and connections to rub shoulders with the elite, getting into parties with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, eating at Le Cirque, and then returning to her tiny closet-sized apartment packed floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall, with posters and playbills and other memorabilia. "She sees value in things we don't," the film's director suggests at one point. And he's right. She clearly believes in the power of documentation; she's in awe of the people who appear on the big screen. But right from the very beginning of Laura — the documentary about her directed by her friend Fillipe Gamarano Barbaso — it's clear that she's not entirely comfortable with his attention. She snaps at him, refuses to let him see the inside of her apartment, threatens to end the film. And then, at other moments, she seems to revel in it.

That, over the course of the film, becomes the film. Barbaso begins to insert himself into the movie more and more. And as he does, as he explained in the Q&A after the screening, "The perversity of the relationship begins to emerge... and it is really is perverse." He is trying to push her into revealing more of herself to the camera; she is sometimes accommodating, sometimes pushing back. It takes a heavy toll on their friendship. Now, they barely speak. "Deciding to show the film for the first time was a conscious decision to break the relationship," Barbaso added at the Q&A. "'s like a break up."

In the end, I suppose, Laura is about disillusionment. About the pain that follows pleasure in love, in friendship, in celebrity, in Laura, and even in Laura. "New York is heaven and hell," she says at one point. And in her world, it seems just about everything else is too.

- Adam Bunch

Laura is playing again on Tuesday May 1 at 4pm at the ROM Theatre and Sat. May 5 at 4pm at the Cumberland. Tickets 'n' stuff here.

Find all of our coverage of Hot Docs 2012 here. 

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at


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