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Review: Review: ‘Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story’ vividly profiles makeup artist to Cher and other stars

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Kevyn Aucoin, left, and Jeremy Antunes in a photo from the documentary “Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story.”
(Eric Sakas Archive)

“Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story” is a rich, deeply dimensional documentary looking back at the legendary makeup artist who died in 2002 at 40.

Director Tiffany Bartok tracks the brief, complicated, glittery life of Aucoin (pronounced Aw-KWAN) in well-assembled and told swaths, starting with his seminal youth as an openly gay boy (one of a family of four adopted children) with an unapologetic fixation on glamour, makeup and all things Barbra Streisand.

Growing up in less-than-embracing Lafayette, La., Aucoin was often bullied and ostracized. Although this childhood trauma may have forever damaged his self-image, it would also drive and guide his need for validation and success, particularly in challenging conventional notions of beauty.

Using a wealth of personal photos and home video; archival news clips; footage from fashion, commercial and music video shoots; warm, candid interviews with many of his celebrity clients (Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Cher, Brooke Shields and others); plus chats with family, friends and ex-lovers, Bartok nimbly moves through the 1980s and ’90s as the inventive and influential (and notably huge-handed) Aucoin took New York by storm and became the first superstar makeup artist.

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Aucoin’s search for his birth parents, his 2000 wedding ceremony, his struggle with the effects of a rare pituitary tumor and the painkiller addiction that would cause his demise are also covered in this vivid tribute.

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‘Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes.

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Playing: Starts July 20 in limited release

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