‘In Fabric’ is a Mystifying Send-up of Holiday Shopping

This is my sixth year working the holiday season in retail, and though each year doesn’t get much harder than that first one, it doesn’t get any easier, either. The coupons, the difficult customers, the long hours, and the ravenous crowds. The longer you’re exposed to it, the more jaded you become, the more hardened you are to the shouting, the impatience, the complicated transactions, and unending gift receipts. To bemoan or fear Black Friday becomes an afterthought to simply enduring it. The maligned day will come, and it will soon be over – then the holidays will ensue, and soon they will see their end, as well. But their finality comes with the price of knowing that they will come back. As long as I work in retail, I am a slave to the whims of customers and of corporations. And once I finally escape, the only thing that will change is that I no longer have to deal with the customers.

Peter Strickland’s In Fabric sews itself as a film about the horrors of beauty standards and materialism, but blossoms into near-farce about the ludicrousness of the holiday season under capitalism. A department store is a cover for witchcraft; television commercials for sales are hypnotic spells; an enchanted dress brings pain and suffering to all who wear it; no one in the entire town can stop talking about the one fucking sale going on from one, single store. What starts off as horrifying and baffling becomes almost comical, as the absurdity of our shopping habits and of retail work during the most wonderful time of the year are put on the bloodthirsty spotlight that they deserve.

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