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Review: Barbara Kopple chronicles the rise of a YouTube star in ‘This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous’

‘This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous’
Gigi Gorgeous in the documentary “This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous.”
(Gary Griffin / Sundance Institute)

Combining the talents of an Oscar-winning documentarian with a YouTube star might initially seem like a poor fit to cinephiles. However, with “This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous,” acclaimed filmmaker Barbara Kopple retains her signature intimacy and freedom from judgment of her subject.

Born Gregory Lazzarato, Gigi Gorgeous rose to Internet fame as a teenage boy who amasses fans with elaborate makeup tutorials and personal asides shot on a Go Pro camera. Viewers got access to the YouTuber through videos, as Lazzarato first comes out as gay, then transitioned to a woman, legally changing her name to Gigi Loren Lazzarato in 2014.

“This Is Everything” provides structure to Lazzarato’s story, editing videos from her channel together with home movies, family interviews and new footage. The film primarily focuses on the challenges she experiences and her relationship with her parents and brothers, but it also comments on the larger issues faced by many transgender people. Even though Lazzarato’s own videos give access to her personality, Kopple has found new layers, particularly in capturing her interactions with her father.

This YouTube Red documentary occasionally feels like an ad for the service. Lazzarato’s lavish lifestyle — which she earned as one of its big name stars — is on display, and interviewees comment on the benefits of the platform. But those who worry if this is the sole future of filmmaking needn’t worry; for all that the Gigi Gorgeous videos provide, Kopple’s experienced touch adds depth and a clear narrative.

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‘This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

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Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; also on YouTube Red Feb. 8

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