Ozwald Boateng’s life story is
almost too good to be true. The London-born son of Ghanaian immigrants, this self-taught designer resides in the upper echelons of the fashion industry, having navigated a career trajectory that is part Perils of Pauline (financial collapse at the start, being burgled of an entire collection just as things were breaking his way, two marriages sacrificed to his ambition) and part Hollywood fantasy (hobnobbing with and designing for A-listers including Will Smith, Spike Lee, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Sir Richard Branson, and being awarded an Order of the British Empire). The documentary A Man’s Story, directed by Varon Bonicos, captures all that and more. But it’s static, never catching fire from the sparks of drama shown in lots of backstage fashion-show footage and home movies, all dating from 1998 through 2010 and interspersed with original interviews with the designer. Shot like a high-end infomercial whose product (key word, that) is a camera-conscious Boateng, the film can’t transcend the fact that its subject always seems to be playing for the lens—whether having a backstage blow-up or grieving a wife’s affair. The result often plays more like a satire of the fashion industry than a serious look at one of the humans inside it.