Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams was a documentary unlike any other I’ve ever seen. It showed promise in the beginning, having a tone set sans music while displaying the progress of a single Ferragamo shoe from start to finish. In the end, the shoe boasted a delectable red sparkle that Dorothy herself (Wizard of Oz) would approve of. Unfortunately, the film loses its sparkle as time progresses and strays away from its attractive introduction.
The early history of the legendary shoemaker and how he rose to stardom is more than enough for a story. Ferragamo was the eleventh child of 14 in a working-class family in the village of Bonito. His story begins with his early fascination with the local cobbler, which, to his chagrin, was looked down upon by his family (shoemaking was seen as a lower-class profession). After mastering his craft in Naples at just 11 years old, he moves to America with big dreams. The doc is still shimmering with sparkle at this point.
The film starts losing its luster after a combination of missteps becomes noticeable. First, the narrator. A lethargic, slow-paced voice that’s tasked to carry the story inevitably casts boredom not long into the film. After that monotone, lethargic voice casts its spell of boredom on you, you’ll start to check your watch. You’ll be disappointed to find out that when you’re at minute 30, you’ll still have another 90 to go.
When it comes to documentaries, those that are fashion-focused tend to lack that draw and appeal to the masses. For those in the fashion world, it’s par for the course, but if you’re interested in learning about a designer, you might find that difficult. Dior and I is a good example of a documentary that had it all – fashion, history, glitz, empowerment, and notable contributions. That’s not to say that Martin Scorsese, Manolo Blahnik, and Christian Louboutin aren’t people of note, but what they speak to is equally as important. The aforementioned three were tolerable, but the army of Ferragamo family members that come forward was completely unnecessary.
Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams gets a 6 out of 10. The documentary has promise in its first half but starts to veer off into the unnecessary soon after. The legendary shoemaker’s story is an incredible one that could’ve been told better than this. If the film had been shortened by about 45 minutes that could’ve helped, but aside from that, the narration and extraneous contributions sour the experience.
Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams is in theaters now.
Cover photo: Historical photo of the dinner on the occasion of the 1947 Neiman Marcus award for fashion. ©Neiman Marcus Collection. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.