Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams

This movie sees this man’s heart and sole.

I’m no expert in the high life of shoes, but I can tell director Luca Guadagnino puts his heart and soul into “Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams,” a documentary about the Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo. It’s about how he was raised in Bonito, Italy, and how he found his passion in shoes. He immediately became an expert and an artist. He even traveled to Naples, and then to America to expand his horizons.

Salvatore is narrated by Michael Stulhbarg, who previously worked with Guadagnino on the beautiful “Call Me By Your Name,” and he adds a sentimental and honest voice to him. But he isn’t the only reason why this movie should be recommended. It’s about his creative process, and how he transitions from one place to the next, and how he has his own aspects on the American dream.

It focuses on a number of elements. How be started the Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A. store, how he worked on movies, and how he survived the Great Depression. And this doc also lets us know that he was uncredited on a number of films, so IMDB wouldn’t have all his titles, but it does give us some fresh examples.

He even designed a Rainbow shoe, inspired by “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz,” in the style of a platform shoe. The end credits use CGI shoes in a “Beauty and the Beast” fashion” with different colors. I’m talking, of course, about the “Be Our Guest” number, but that’s beside the point. I doubt my mom would wear those kind of shoes, because they seem a bit much, but they look colorful in a looking sense.

Besides Stuhlbarg’s narration and some of Salavatore’s archival recordings, you get interviews from the shoemaker’s descendants, costume designer Deborah Nadoolman, fashion designer Manolo Blahnik, and Martin Scorsese, among others. They all talk about his passion, his impact on others, and how movies should have his kind of tastes. For those who uncredited him, it’s their loss.

Again, I’m not a shoe expert, so I wasn’t too thrilled with everything presented in the story. But it is interesting and compassionate in the ways Guadagnino is inspired by the art form of the shoemaker, and how he tells his story without glamorizing it haphazardly. He tells it with the greatest of ease. “Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams” is a doc that loves the shoemaker, his tastes in shoes, and how everyone should have a sole like his. Pun intended.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

In New York and Los Angeles This Friday

Categories: Documentary

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