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Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields ★★★★



Director: Lana Wilson

Cast: Brooke Shields

Release: TBC

When we examine the TikTok-addled, media-saturated world that we now consume, it’s often difficult to understand what being “a star” truly means. As pointed out early on in Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields by entertainment commentators, there could now be hundreds of people that have achieved a significant level of fame, yet are figures that have passed most of the world by. Famed itself has morphed into something much more commonplace, and understanding the “all eyes on me” mentality of pre-2000s culture is difficult to grasp. In Brooke Shields’ tell-all expose, the explanation of her rise to the top is sobering yet compelling, chronicling a 45-year career that has left violent emotional scars.

Known for her roles in Pretty Baby and Blue Lagoon, Brooke Shields is the Hollywood blueprint for what it means to be a child star. Having to deal with the repercussions of rising fame well into her adulthood, Shields sits down to explain her story through media appearances and archival footage. Touching on the industry’s power structure and complicit objectification of young women, Brooke’s story is both one-of-a-kind and universally shared by multiple generations of womanhood.

It’s not a surprise that the two-part documentary is — for the most part — impeccably well constructed, considering who is steering the ship. Known for her work on the 2020 Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana, Director Lana Wilson is naturally gifted at finding the beating heart of a livelihood and compassionately drilling down into it. No stone is left unturned when it comes to examining the Brooke Shields we think we all know, peppered with shrewdly placed media figures to hammer her points home (such as notable child star Drew Barrymore). It could be said that the first half is better utilised than the second, perhaps somewhat rushing through significant emotional trauma such as sexual assault and post-partum depression. It’s the final moments that are the sharp twang of clarity the documentary needs to part on though, with Brooke’s two teenage daughters explaining back to her why it was wrong that she was cast in Pretty Baby at the age of just 12. There’s clearly still a sense of pride that Shields shares in being involved in a great work of art, with hindsight perhaps still a work in progress rather than something finite. 

Brooke herself, as always, is completely charming. Without the industry pressures of being the beautiful face of the entire 1980s, she’s been increasingly allowed to explore her goofier side. Her on-camera pieces are both candid and full of heart, never tiptoeing around any issue that 

would make the average Joe incredibly uncomfortable. Hers is a tale that is like no other — and no matter how many times we hear about child and female exploitation in high-profile industries, seeing a blow-for-blow account is something little can prepare viewers for. It’s amazing that Shields can take so much in her stride, even if there are arguably some things she’ll never be able to fully recognise as a negative.
As far as cultural documentaries go, Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields should be up there with the titles that define a stand against society. Shields herself knows that her infamous films would never be able to be made today, and hopefully, one day the same can be said for her hindsight on camera.

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