Rooney Mara’s commercial for Calvin Klein’s new fragrance Downtown debuted today. The black-and-white short film was shot by David Fincher, who previously directed Mara in The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network.
Set to “Runaway” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the short “depicts authentic individuality through a cinematic portrayal of a confident, urban woman,” according to a press release from Calvin Klein. It’s “the story of a young woman living in her own world, breaking away from the ‘expected.’”
Such bombastic words – and the fact that it’s directed by Fincher – would lead one to believe this is a Very Serious Cannes Film Festival Submission and not a fragrance ad. But this is how Calvin Klein pushes perfume. Click on to watch.
Unfortunately, Fincher – who is known for his dark and edgy thrillers – takes a stereotypical approach. There’s the familiar gazing out car windows trope, slow-mo everything (pouring sugar never looked so treacherous), and unnecessary life-and-death urgency. Rooney is seen skitting from the coffee shop to the subway, then on to photo shoots and premieres, all while somehow finding time to play with children and coo over puppies. Pretty to look at, but not sure what I’m supposed to be buying – the perfume or Rooney’s fantastical (albeit eternally stormy) life? Looks more eau de pretend than eau de parfum.
This is Mara’s first foray into the world of uncomfortable close-ups, err, beauty campaigns, but her star turn in the fragrance commercial isn’t novel; there’s been an uptick of major fashion and beauty brands hiring A-list actors and big name directors to create micro films for their fragrances. Forget that the format itself is strange, considering one can’t smell the perfume from the TV screen. But why all the hubbub and aplomb for tiny little bottles described using vague, paradoxical adjectives like “woodsy floral” and “manly feminine?”
Remember when Adam Levine lambasted the very concept of celebrity perfumes only to turn around and release one of his own, name plastered all over the bottle, calling it “the anti-celebrity fragrance”? Or that perplexing Brad Pitt Chanel No. 5 ad that was equal parts shaggy hair and Shakespearean countenance. “Wherever I go, there you are.” Say what, Brad?
Does Calvin Klein’s latest ad make you want to run to the perfume counter? Or is it just a nascent form of advertising disguised as art, a fancy smell-o-gram? Head down to the comments section to tell us what you think about celebrity perfume ads.