Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
McQueen Movie Poster Image
Excellent but mature docu on controversial fashion designer
  • R
  • 2018
  • 111 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Documentary shows how Alexander McQueen worked extremely hard to become one of fashion's most innovative designers. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

While the documentary shows how Alexander McQueen wasn't perfect and had his share of inner demons, it also shows how he emerged from a working-class background and through hard work and the full application of his talents and genius, he became a successful fashion icon. 


Talk throughout the documentary of child abuse, spouse abuse, domestic violence. McQueen's fashion shows were often inspired by violent themes like rape or Jack the Ripper. Talk of suicide. 


Brief nudity -- female breasts, buttocks. 


"F--k" frequently used. "C--t," "c--k," "piss." Middle finger gesture. 


Talk of clothing brands and fashion labels such as Givenchy. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking. Cigarette smoking. Talk of cocaine use. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that McQueen is a 2018 documentary about the life and times of the innovative and controversial fashion designer. McQueen used his fashion shows to explore themes such as Jack the Ripper and rape -- in the rape-themed show, models are shown with torn clothes and smudged makeup walking in a lurching manner up and down the catwalk. Friends of McQueen, and McQueen himself, discuss how McQueen used these shows to exorcise personal demons -- talk of child abuse, spouse abuse, and domestic violence. Talk of McQueen's suicide. Brief nudity -- models in see-through clothing or clothing that exposes their breasts or buttocks. "F--k" used frequently, as well as other profanities. Talk of cocaine use. Some drinking, cigarette smoking. Overall, even for those who aren't the most knowledgeable followers of haute couture, this documentary is an engaging portrait of a brilliant and provocative artist, a bon vivant and a troubled soul. 

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What's the story?

MCQUEEN is a biographical documentary on the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Emerging from humble beginnings, McQueen, through hard work and astounding talent, quickly rose through the ranks of the fashion industry. In the 1990s, McQueen gained success and notoriety as an "enfant terrible" of haute couture, creating provocative fashion shows exploring themes such as mass murder and rape. His work is shown to be as much an exorcising of personal demons as a challenge to the fashion status quo. Eventually, he would be a designer for Givenchy before launching his own label. The documentary also shows how years of hard work and fast living took its toll, and the events that led to McQueen taking his own life in 2010. Since his death, McQueen's fashion line continues to shape and influence the fashion world. 

Is it any good?

Even for those who aren't the most knowledgeable of haute couture, this documentary is an engaging and accessible portrait of the brilliant and provocative fashion designer. The textbook definition of the term "enfant terrible," Alexander McQueen is shown to be obsessively driven, incredibly hardworking, and fearless in using his art to confront his inner demons while revolutionizing fashion and the fashion industry. McQueen's own explanations of his aesthetic provide an incidental benefit for watching this documentary: It reveals fashion design and fashion shows to be legitimate artforms, especially for those confused as to the point and utility of models strutting up and down Parisian catwalks in clothing that would never be worn by, well, anyone who isn't an international fashion model. 

The accessibility of McQueen is what makes this documentary so special. Dedicated followers of fashion will find it interesting, and for everyone else, it's the story of troubled genius, of a bon vivant, of a man who, perhaps unlikely, came up out of working-class roots to change fashion forever, of a rebel whose personal tragedies helped lead to an untimely death by suicide. McQueen is a thorough overview of the man's life and work, and its lasting influence to this day. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about biographical documentaries. How does McQueen compare to other biographical documentaries you've seen?

  • The documentary shows how McQueen drew on his inner demons to provide inspiration for his fashion shows, and his fearlessness in addressing difficult topics that would be offensive to many. What role do artists play in confronting and addressing their understanding of the world? 

  • What are some other examples of artists -- musicians, filmmakers, standup comedians, other fashion designers, for instance -- who were provocative and defied convention? 

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