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Film / Gia

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She's dressed as though she's in a fairy tale... when her life was anything but.
Gia is a 1998 television biopic about the life and death of model Gia Marie Carangi. The film stars Angelina Jolie in the title role, alongside Faye Dunaway, Mercedes Ruehl, and Elizabeth Mitchell, and was directed by Michael Cristofer. It was broadcast on HBO. Jolie and Dunaway both won Golden Globe awards for their roles.

The film follows Gia as she moves to New York City to become a fashion model, immediately catching the attention of powerful agent Wilhelmina Cooper. Gia's attitude and beauty help her rise quickly to the forefront of the industry, but her persistent loneliness drives her to experiment with mood-altering drugs like cocaine. She becomes entangled in a passionate affair with Linda, a make-up artist. However, after a while, Linda begins to worry about Gia's drug use, and their relationship starts to fall apart. Failed attempts at reconciliation with Linda and with her mother drive Gia to begin abusing heroin. Although she is eventually able to break her drug habit after much effort, she has already contracted HIV by a needle containing infected blood and dies from complications from AIDS in 1986 at the age of 26.

This film contains examples of:

  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: This is part of Gia's appeal in the fashion business, which was dominated at the time by blond Girl Next Door-types.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Linda has a boyfriend prior to entering into a romance with Gia.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Linda enjoys sex with Gia but is in denial about it and keeps going back to her boyfriend.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Gia's agent's widow wishes Gia "dies in Philadelphia".
    • Gia's mother wishes her daughter would go back to modeling and making money. She regrets it when Gia steals her money, jewelry, and wedding ring.
  • Betty and Veronica: Gia (the Veronica) competes with Billy (the Betty) over Linda (the Archie).
  • Biopic
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: Linda finds herself in one between her boyfriend Billy and her girlfriend Gia.
  • Body Horror: Gia's mother Kathleen describing the effect AIDS had on her body posthumous.
    Kathleen: She died at 10:00 in the morning. When the doctors tried to pick her up off the bed, the flesh on her back just fell off.
  • Broken Ace/Broken Bird: Gia was a beautiful, talented and charismatic supermodel and something of a trailblazer for other models like herself to follow, namely of those who are brunette and not super-tall. In spite of this, she also was an incredibly lonely, damaged, and heartbroken young woman who even over her highly successful career just wanted someone to love and accept her unconditionally and turned to drugs and self-destructive behavior to cope, which ultimately led to tragedy.
  • Butch Lesbian: Not too butch but Gia does sport a short haircut and dresses more androgynously (when she's not modeling), along with some tomboyish mannerisms in comparison to her lover Linda.
  • Bury Your Gays: The bisexual model Gia dies in her 20's due to complications from drug-related AIDS.
  • But Not Too Bi: The bisexual model Gia enjoys sexual pleasure with both men and women but the biopic centers mostly on her romance with Linda.
  • Camp Gay: Some minor unnamed photographers, make-up artists, and fashion designers. Being fashion, however, this is probably Truth in Television.
  • Character Title: Gia herself.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Gia herself, and it's Played for Drama.
  • Descent into Addiction: Gia's addiction to drugs goes hardcore after losing her girlfriend Linda to the guy she competes with, being abandoned by her mother and her agent/surrogate mother Wilhelmina dying.
  • Domestic Abuse: Gia's father is shown abusing her mother during her childhood.
  • Downer Beginning: The beginning shows Gia as a child witnessing her parents' abusive marriage and her mother walking out on the family.
  • Downer Ending: Gia loses her girlfriend, her mother, her agent, and ultimately her modeling career. She is soon consumed by a nasty drug addiction that leads to her getting raped and her death via AIDS.
  • Drugs Are Bad: And how! While Gia was a troubled girl to begin with, if she could have only avoided heroin, she might have escaped a lot of tragedy, not the least of which was her HIV infection (from a dirty needle) and subsequent death at 26.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Knowing she's going to die from AIDS, Gia makes arrangements for her funeral and bids farewell with her loved ones one last time,
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: Modeled in one in media res opening and even does a Bouquet Toss into the audience (albeit with a mink stole instead of an actual bouquet.)
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Gia's rape at the hands of her drug dealer.
    • The veiny close-up of the needles Gia uses to inject heroin many times.
    • Gia shooting up heroin at her wedding dress modeling show, sticking the infected hole with the tainted needle over and over trying to get high.
  • Fashion Show: Gia attends a few in her work.
  • Faux Documentary: Parts of the film are shot documentary-style, as interviews with people who knew Gia.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: The male photographer invites Linda to join Gia in the nude photoshoot and gets a kick out of the two women kissing and teasing each other through the chain link fence.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: The close-up shots of Gia's heroin needles in her arms.
  • Guy on Guy Is Hot: During a three-way kiss with two guys, Gia manages to convince the two guys kissing her to kiss each other for this reason.
  • How We Got Here: One opening of the film focuses on Gia's corpse being prepared for her funeral. Another version opens with a Fashion Show.
  • Hypocrite: The fashion industry. It's not stated outright, but its mantra seems to be, "Drug abuse is fine and dandy as long as it's not too obvious."
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Lisa hooking up with a gay male model in the past is this.
  • Imagine Spot: Under the influence of drugs, Gia imagines talking with her mother, kissing her girlfriend Linda, and bonding with her agent Wilhelmina.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Gia seems to choose Linda over the drugs, only to swiftly take the drugs back from her hands and leave her in tears.
  • Jerkass: Wilhelmina's receptionist and most of the people in the fashion business, especially Bruce Cooper and Mike Mansfield.
  • Karma Houdini: The drug dealer who rapes Gia gets away scot-free. However, since Gia was already HIV-positive at the time of the rape, it's possible the drug dealer who raped her got infected with it too.
  • Kick the Dog: Gia's drug dealer rapes her towards the end of the film.
  • Last-Second Chance: Linda offers one to Gia, choose her or the drugs.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Gia's lover Linda, who is a makeup artist and much more feminine in comparison with Gia.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Gia/Linda/Billy.
    • Gia torn between Linda and the drugs.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: If she weren't a real person, Gia would be a very dark deconstruction. Sure, she's eccentric and wild, but she's also a deeply troubled and lonely person.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Gia is more butch as she's pretty tomboyish when not working as a model, in comparison with her lover Linda, who has a feminine look and manner.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: When Gia calls Linda, her ex-boyfriend Billy picks up instead, prompting Gia to act out. Linda clears up this misunderstanding, telling Gia that Billy was just moving her things out of their apartment.
  • Mononymous Biopic Title
  • Ms. Fanservice: Gia especially, though Linda also gets naked multiple times. They're shown naked having sex or in the shower, and during Gia's nude photoshoot prior to that. Gia also walks naked outside her apartment and is utterly oblivious to the reactions this gets. Angelina Jolie, everybody, give her a hand.
  • No Bisexuals:
    • Lisa's past hookup with a model named Joe who is openly gay. He doesn't sleep with women. Not that it stopped her.
    • In-Universe example, when Gia tells Linda (while quietly dying from AIDS) that she plans to settle down and have some kids. Linda thinks that it means that Gia is going to be straight.
    Linda: Since when are you straight? You're pretty straight, right?
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: Linda leaves after spending the night with Gia, prompting Gia to follow after her.
  • Queer Romance: Gia falls for Linda, with whom she gets involved. Sadly, their relationship falls apart over Gia's drug abuse.
  • Ominous Hair Loss: Gia experiences this as a result of AIDS.
  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: Gia attends one with model Steffi, where the partygoers indulge in sex and drugs openly.
  • Parental Abandonment: Gia's mother abandons the family after some domestic abuse from her husband, leaving Gia devastated as a child. And again as an adult, when she abandons Gia at her worst all over again.
  • Parental Substitute: Wilhelmina became this to Gia, which made her death all the more devastating.
  • Pet the Dog: Linda drops change into Gia's empty cup after mistaking her for a homeless person.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Gia and T.J.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Gia begs Linda to stay with her post-coital but Linda still leaves due to various circumstances. Gia also begs her mother to stay with her when the latter chooses to leave and go back home to be with her husband despite her daughter's protests.
  • Pretty in Mink: The wedding dress Gia modeled had a huge white fox muff acting as a bouquet (it had flowers bundled on it, and she tossed it during the show).
  • Public Exposure: During a photoshoot, all the other models leave in disgust when the photographer tells them to "lose the clothes". Gia is the only one willing to go through with it.
  • Rape as Drama: A very effective example, when Gia is raped by her drug dealer.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Gia as portrayed by Angelina Jolie.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The makeup being applied to Gia during the opening. Turns out the makeup is being applied to her corpse for her funeral.
  • Sadistic Choice: Gia is given one: choose her girlfriend Linda or the drugs. She chooses the drugs.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Gia. Her first instinct when Linda leaves her apartment after their night of passion is to run into the hallway to confront her - while still completely naked.
    Gia: Where are you going?
    Linda: (laughing) You don't have any clothes on.
    Gia: ...Don't change the subject.
  • Shower of Angst: Gia shakes from her heroin fix while taking a shower with Linda.
  • Shower of Love: Linda shares one with Gia, cleansing her wounds after Gia gets a heroin injection fix.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Gia loves Linda and only Linda.
    Gia: You were the one, you were the only one, and you were amazing.
  • Skewed Priorities: The woman at Gia's Japanese-themed modeling shoot is more concerned over keeping vomit off an expensive dress than Gia's health when she complains of drug-related nausea.
    Gia: I don't feel so good.
    Woman: You're not gonna throw up on that dress, are you?
  • Sleazy Photoshoot: Zig-zagged. During a photoshoot for a magazine, the photographer asks the models if any of them want to stay to make "art", by which he means, "keep the fence, ditch the clothes". Most of the models are repulsed and immediately bail. Gia, however, says that she will if Linda (the make-up artist for the shoot) will join her. Gia seems to be enjoying herself, and when Linda eventually disrobes and joins her, they're very clearly coming on to each other.
  • Stage Mom: Gia's mother becomes this later down the line, pushing Gia to go back to modeling and make money.
  • Take That!: At one point, a group of big-wig fashion industry people are in a meeting being led by someone who is clearly based on Anna Wintour. Also while looking at photos of various models (which she declares them as "boring", "fat", or even "too dumb"), she then sees a picture of a blonde, smiling model which makes her yell out, "Oh, God! I am sick of seeing her face!" The model is never identified, but good candidates could be either Christie Brinkley or Cheryl Tiegs.
  • Tempting Fate: In the hospital, Wilhelmina tells Gia they'll still be together. Not long after, she dies.
    Wilhelmina: I know, I know it's hard. We can do it, hmmm? You and I together.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After Gia falls from grace and starts going to group therapy, she finds herself the subject of quite an epic Reason You Suck speech.
    Support Group Girl: Wait a minute. What am I supposed to feel here? Sorry for you because you're beautiful? Because you made ten thousand a minute doing fucking nothing? "Oh it was so hard, so terrible, they treated me so bad." Listen girl, you had a free ride. And you fucking blew it. And me? I'm some kid from Ohio, reading fashion magazines, looking at your picture and thinking I'm supposed to look like that. And going fucking crazy because I don't. Because nobody told me it was a lie. Because the magazine doesn't come with a label that says, "Caution: This is a lie. Nobody looks like this." Not even you.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Gia as a child is played by Mila Kunis.
  • Tragedy: As the standard of a Downer Ending.
  • Tragic AIDS Story: Being about model Gia Marie Carangi, it shows her substance abuse problem and subsequent infection from an HIV-infected needle leading to her death due to complications from AIDS at the tender age of 26.
  • Wham Shot: Gia first being offered drugs by a fellow model on a flight. While the model did it herself (and offered it to Gia) recreationally to keep up with the frenetic schedule of a fashion model, Gia herself ends up becoming addicted, to eventual tragic results.