GIA (1998)

Gia - Wikipedia

(a “falling star” film review by Timothy J. Verret)

QUESTION: How can you tell if an addict is lying?

ANSWER: His or her lips are moving.

YES! This Q&A is GIA! The irony, though, is that the famously fierce and frighteningly forgotten and “falling star” model, Gia Carangi, didn’t rise to fame for her “lips are moving” but only for her drop-dead gorgeous looks. Those who helped her rise to fame didn’t plan on Gia ever speaking in her short-lived career but, in the end, Gia had to speak ’cause other addicts needed to hear her “falling star” story. And what a story it is, as this film review will hopefully reveal.

GIA is an HBO film revealed largely in part from Gia’s family and friends, who knew her but didn’t, and her journals where she talked about her life as a fairy tale and yet her life was anything but. Gia was an artist and like most artists I know, including myself, she held the beauty AND the pain. In fact, it was exactly this combination that made Gia stand out from all the “picture pretty” models. Gia was VERY “picture pretty” but she also had a rebellious spirit! There was rebellion in her face, her eyes, and her gestures, and it was this rebellious spirit that rose her to high fame, only to eventually plummet her low into a world of self-deprecation and a whole lot of drugs. Gia was “meat,” as one modelling agency called her, and that meant she was “raw.” Gia lived and loved with a fierceness that many in her life couldn’t possibly match or satisfy, and I tell you GIA is MY story! That fierceness is that intensity of one’s living and loving that is something very few people in that one’s midst can live and love up to. For the many people in this one’s life, the many are only left with frustration, feeling defeated in the midst of such fierceness. The many want one such as Gia and myself to “please take it down,” but one such as Gia and myself doesn’t have a clue how to do this. One such as Gia and myself is FIRE, burning bridges and eventually burning out!

Angelina Jolie, Angeline Jolie, ANGELINA JOLIE! Speaking of rising to fame, Jolie made her indelible mark in the film, GIRL INTERRUPTED (1999), playing Lisa who lived and loved very similar to Gia. There is a whole lot of Lisa in Gia or Gia in Lisa (BOTH, but not sure how that works). There’s that FIRE, that hypnotic personality of one so hypnotically inviting and dismissing, often hypnotizing at the same time! Jolie won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress playing Lisa, and Jolie won a very well-deserved Golden Globe as Best Actress playing Gia. Hard to imagine anyone else playing Gia but Jolie. And they sure do look alike:

Gia: The real Gia Carangi vs. Angelina Jolie (film Gia) - YouTube

Jolie is exceptional as Gia! It’s a powerhouse performance, and only a powerful actress such as Jolie could have pulled it off. And pulled it off she did! In what I counted of Jolie in every frame of the film, Jolie is a Tsunami! If there is an emotion Jolie did not have in GIA, I certainly didn’t spot it and experience it. Jolie especially shined in the quieter moments of the fierce storm of her life toward the end of the film, when she was dying and died from AIDS at a time when nothing was known about AIDS. How devastating is it to go from someone like Gia who the world never got sick of looking at to someone like Gia who the world saw as sick enough to not ever want to look at again? Ah, the life of the artist! The pursuit of admiration and approval only to find out in the end, it all meant nothing! Ah, my life as an artist! The pursuit of admiration and approval only to find out in the end, it will mean nothing! Ah, the life of the lonely artist! The “lonely in a crowd” artist and when the crowd leaves, as they inevitably will, ah, the only thing left is the life of the lonely artist!

GIA is a dissection of an artist’s life, from high rising to “falling star.” It’s Jolie’s film. It’s about the artistic temperament of Gia that was too much temper to not diffuse in the end. It’s that rising so fast (too fast) that a “falling” so fast (too fast) is inevitable. It’s an artist shooting for the stars and achieving the stars but not being able to stay up there in the sky, because there’s no higher the artist can possibly go. After all, there is such a thing as a “falling star.” When Gia was in the throes of her addiction, she was on a modelling shoot, high (in the stars) as a kite, and the photographer looked at her and said, “This is not Heaven. You don’t have to be perfect.” He might as well have said to her and any artist, “Don’t shoot for the stars because you will eventually fall.” Yes, this is all indeed the message loud and clear for the artist….and for all of us!

NOTE: Once again, God has the most excellent timing in having me see a most excellent film at the most excellent time I needed to see it. I needed to see GIA, because I don’t want my seeking approval and admiration as an artist from others (that I seek ALL THE TIME) to be me as a “falling star.” The approval and admiration I seek as an artist from others is already there. It’s from God, and my “star” is up there for all to see as long as God keeps and holds my “star” in His Heavenly Sky.

2 thoughts on “GIA (1998)

  1. As usual, it is written about with a lot of empathy.

    I remember back when I was in seventh grade, many of my classmates watched GIA on HBO and used to discuss about it. Unfortunately since Jolie had starred as Lara Croft and was only seen as an eye candy(this was an all boys’ convent school, duly note that) they only discussed about her sexuality, drug use and wild nature in the context of the film. Or maybe they were too young to grasp its intricacy.

    I, on my part, have obviously not seen it till now except maybe few scenes years ago but it’s such a well-known example of Jolie’s fiery commitment to a difficult embodiment of another person. You do her story and arc justice with your succinct words.


    1. Thanks , PJ! Yes, God needed me to see this film. I so much seek approval and admiration from man, forgetting all the time that I’m already approved and admired by the Ultimate Fan of mine, God through Jesus Christ! When will I ever get this?πŸ€žβ€πŸ‘


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