The Kingmaker — up close with Imelda Marcos, spendthrift superdiva
Lauren Greenfield’s documentary about the Philippines’ former First Lady is comic as well as horrific
It’s a bizarre week in the Christmas run-up when the two best new films are sobering documentaries about countries drunk on autocracy (see Citizen K). Lauren Greenfield’s The Kingmaker has its own slightly tipsy moments early on. The star is Imelda Marcos, the once-beautiful First Lady of the Philippines, now resembling something off a carnival float. The huge, rouged, mad-puppet cheeks; the big, expensive dresses; the portly, unsteady, assisted walk, like something operated by invisible spars or strings.
“I miss the clout of being First Lady,” Imelda moues from her barely moveable jaws. But she compensates (the film grows serious to tell us) by living on the wealth ransacked from the people by her and Ferdinand; by propping up her new surrogate monarch Rodrigo Duterte; by pushing her senator son Bongbong into the dynastic power queue; and by queening it over crowds in public appearances. “Shirley, give me some money to give away,” she says to an assistant.