Film FestivalsMovie ReviewsTIFF 2019: The Kingmaker Review

Kielan EllisSeptember 21, 201976/100
Imelda Marcos
Lauren Greenfield
Lauren Greenfield
Running Time
101 minutes
Release Date
November 1st, 2019
Overall Score
Rating Summary
The Kingmaker is an intriguing look into the life and times of Imelda Marcos, beyond her famous shoe collection, with occasional bursts of greatness, but a few highly noticeable moments of falling short.

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, to keep up with our latest coverage, click here.

The Kingmaker is the newest documentary film from the maker of the beloved Queen of Versailles, Lauren Greenfield, as she continues her cinematic assault on the 1% – now turning her focus on the former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos. This was a film that relies almost entirely on its subject matter, Marcos, a woman with a famous shoe collection who also flies under the radar on the assortment of other crazy, horrific and terrifying actions for which she was responsible, seemingly without guilt. 

The Kingmaker does a great job at balancing it’s objectivity, with taking a stance, juxtaposing interviews with Marcos that allow her to come across the way she would wish, with highly comedic moments, with horrifying stories from survivors of the martial law instated by her husband. It’s a film that does not shy away from the atrocities of politics, but also embraces the absurdity of them.

Unfortunately, The Kingmaker is not entirely perfect. The pace of the film slows down after about the half an hour mark, and the rest of the film truly feels like 2+ hour film despite its 101 minute advertised running time. In addition, occasionally Greenfield will insert title cards as if it were the end just to wrap up a storyline or thread that she seemingly has no more footage for. It’s jarring and disconnects audiences from the immersion that the film’s seamless combination between interview and archival footage ropes you into.

In the end, The Kingmaker succeeds on many fronts but fails with the key aspects needed to make a documentary work. Its engrossing material but the film itself may not be as engaging as it needs to be to keep audiences engaged until the end.

*still courtesy of TIFF*

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