Gia (1998) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's comments in white:

Gia -- made for cable (1998) -- is of the "superstar has hard childhood, can't handle the pressure of success, turns to drugs, dies drug-related death" genre. This time it is Gia, the first runway superstar. Played to perfection by Angelina Jolie, the story is essentially a true one. Her lesbian lover, played by Elizabeth Mitchell also does a very good job. As a matter of fact, there was nothing wrong with the production values, the direction, the photography, or any of the performances. Everyone seems to love this film -- everyone except me.

The first film I saw in this genre was "The Rose." Midler did a great job on it, and after it was over, I was impressed by the achievement, but depressed over what had been depicted. Then I saw "Sid and Nancy." Again, the acting was top-notch. This one left me wondering if I really needed to see a film this graphic about such a depressing waste of two lives. 

Now, after Gia, I really don't ever need to see another film about a superstar ruined by drugs. One of the problems with these films is that the last half features an obnoxious addict ruining his or her own life and hurting everyone who cares about them. This has no entertainment value, of course, but I suppose it could be redeemed by educational value. Not in my case, however. I already believe drug addiction is a bad thing, so the message is wasted on me, and I no longer find any reason to watch this sort of thing.


Elizabeth Mitchell and Angelina Jolie provided some nudity in a sex scene, in the famous "link fence" scene, and in the shower. No pubic hair, but each women did a frontal with her hand in her lap.

Jolie also did a full rear nude scene standing in a hallway.

 Scoopy's comments in yellow:

This is a biopic of Gia Carangi, a lively and rebellious girl who became a model, caught on because she was something new, got caught up in the drug scene, started a downward spiral of dependent behavior, and eventually died of AIDS-related causes. The script was co-written by Jay McInerney, author of the familiar novel "Bright Lights, Big City," and the semi-official chronicler of the high life in New York in the 70's and 80's. OK, that's good material to work with. McInerney is a literate and knowledgeable observer of that scene, and Gia lived an interesting and tragically short life, but .... unfortunately, they couldn't find any "hook" to make it truly cinematic. It is just a pretty straightforward made-for-cable recitation of the highlights of a life - more or less a docudrama.

Of course, since Gia was a real person, even the unembellished facts may hook you in, because the film captures a time and a scene and a person you may be interested in. And there are plenty of positives. The story does have the ring of truth to it; the script presents Gia "scars and all"; Jolie is a charismatic (and daring) performer; HBO did their usual classy job of producing; and some clear, straightforward, and colorful photography created some beautiful images.

And yet, with biographical films I always ask myself this: "If it weren't about a real person, would it really be interesting enough to watch?"

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen

  • no meaningful features

  • unrated version (has an additional five minutes of footage)

My answer here: maybe not ...

 ... except for the Jolie/Mitchell nude scenes, which are excellent.

Bottom line: if you want to be educated about the life of Gia Carangi, and (more important) see Angelina Jolie with her clothes off, then you may want to check it out.

The Critics Vote

  • TV movie not reviewed by major theatrical critics

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.9 
  • Made for HBO
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. Average or slightly below average docudrama which would be worse if not for a brilliant and daring performance by Jolie, who bared her body and soul to recreate the real Gia.

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