Any woman who’s ever felt dissatisfied with any aspect of her appearance — so, pretty much every woman — will find something to relate to in “Take My Nose … Please!” Documentarian Joan Kron (directing her first film at the age of 89!) blends her subjects’ personal stories with a broader survey of the media’s impact on female body image to create a film that’s simultaneously provocative and empathetic (as well as frequently laugh-out-loud funny).
Focusing primarily on two comediennes — veteran character actress Jackie Hoffman and improv up and comer Emily Askin — Kron’s film explores women’s motives for undergoing plastic surgery. Both Hoffman and Askin seem quite sure that surgically altering their noses will make them happier with how they look and, by extension, more satisfied with who they are. But they’re also astute enough to realize that cosmetic changes alone can’t address deeper issues of self-worth and insecurity.
And it’s by gamely tackling that aspect of the subject that Kron really gets to the heart of the matter. What is it that makes so many of us sure that our bodies — ourselves — are in some way inadequate? Clearly it must be related to too many women’s inability to love themselves unconditionally, because even when Hoffman and Askin’s devoted significant others assure them that they’re loved for who they are, no matter what, they can’t help seeing imperfection when they look into the mirror.
Why IS that? Some of it has to do with institutionalized racism — i.e., if you’re not a cute, WASPy blonde, you’re out of luck — and a lot of it has to do with the unrealistic images that women of all shapes and sizes are constantly fed by the media. But the short answer is that there is no short answer. For some people, cosmetic surgery really can help improve self confidence and self image. But for others, satisfaction is fleeting at best. Kron doesn’t judge her subjects either way; rather, she sympathizes as a fellow woman, knowing the kinds of pressures — both internal and external — they’re up against. The result is a film that’s honest, insightful, and worthy of discussion. — Betsy Bozdech
Team #MOTW Comments:
Esther Iverem: Revealatory, voyeuristic, funny and sad, Take My Nose…Please! lays bare the obsession among American women with plastic surgery, most often to modify that most protruding facial feature. Interviews with patients and doctors, plus archival footage and history combine to tell a story of how even among “White” people, there are aspirations to erase ethnic traits, to nip, tuck and cut their way into an homogenous, “normal” standard of beauty in our marketing- and entertainment-driven culture. Director Joan Kron has taken a topic considered superficial and exposed its deep scars, pain and meaning.
Nikki Baughan: Funny, measured and insightful, Joan Kron’s hugely entertaining documentary takes a frank and unbiased look at the issue of plastic surgery. Told via the experiences and routines of female stand up comics, who are able to discuss the subject with a refreshing frankness, the film explores the myriad reasons why women choose to go under the knife, and the place such surgical procedures have within wider society. An entertaining and enlightening experience.
Sheila Roberts: In her directorial debut, Joan Kron’s entertaining documentary, “Take My Nose…Please,” examines the importance of having a positive body image. Through a series of thought-provoking interviews adeptly edited by Nancy Novack, Kron explores how funny women react to the societal pressures of mirroring a certain aesthetic and being held up to an impossible standard as they age. Whether they’re entertainment industry celebrities who make a living with their looks trying to keep up with the demands of their profession or ordinary people who want to look their best seeking to improve their appearance, beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder.
MaryAnn Johanson: Beauty journalist Joan Kron’s comedy-as-truth documentary about women, plastic surgery, and our scoiety’s obsession with youth and beauty (though only for women) busts taboos with glee. But it’s rather depressing, too, in how it highlights how inescapable the social pressure to look a certain way is even when you’re aware of how ridiculous it all is.
Nell Minow: I’d like Ms. Kron to follow this film with a whole series on a wide variety of topics, inviting the sharpest and funniest female comics to comment on many more aspects of modern life. The best part of this film is hearing their wise, self-aware, and bracingly honest takes on the world and how they do and do not fit in.
Jennifer Merin: TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE! is an up close and personal, in your face, challenging and very entertaining exploration of the relationship between women and plastic surgery. Nose. Face. Boobs. Gastric bypass. Famous faces from Jane Fonda to Phyllis Diller — and Joan Rivers — reveal their truths, and several characters prepare for their day under the knife. The women discuss self esteem, pressures to conform to magazine cover expectations and how physical appearance impacts work opportunities. They talk about relationships with parents and with lovers. A lot of information and insight is delivered, punctuated by lots of laughs. Well done, Joan Kron, whose career as a documentary filmmaker begins at age 89.
Title: Take My Nose…Please!
Director: Joan Kron
Release Date: October 6, 2017
Running Time: 92 minutes
Principal Cast: Jane Fonda, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Rosanne Barr (archival), Emily Askin, Jacque Lynn Foltyn, Judy Gold
Production Company: Parvenu Ventures
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Betsy Bozdech, Cynthia Fuchs, Pam Grady, Leba Hertz, Esther Iverem, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Sheila Roberts, Liz Whittemore, Susan Wloszczyna, Jeanne Wolf
Written by Betsy Bozdech, edited by Jennifer Merin