...the search for the fountain of youth is one of the oldest themes. Ultimately, it explores the idea of eternal youth and never wanting to die.
One of the questions the film asks is: what makes people happy?
One of the doctors in the film sites a study that says it's not money or looks that makes people happy. It's self esteem. And what blocks people from having good self esteem is something about their appearance that gets in the way, whether it's anxiety about hair loss or weight or their nose. And often, if they can do something about it, they feel a lot better.
I know a very normal guy who used to be cover up his nose. For years he didn't like it and finally he went away quietly and got it fixed, and then he didn't cover it up anymore. There are different cases, obviously, and for some it can become an endless pit where no amount of weight loss or surgery will make them feel better. But for many, it gives them what they need to restore their sense of self- esteem.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?
To me the stealth message of the film is: wouldn't it be great if we lived in a society where there wasn't ageism, where the sexes were completely equal? But because the world is the way it is and things like weight and ageism do exist, I feel like it's not fair to judge those who have made a decision to fight a really hard fight against those things. I wanted to make a film that really provoked thought even if at times it angered the viewer.
Ironically, I don't like to wear makeup, and I don't care that much about beauty. I think my fascination with youth is more time related.
One of the people I interviewed who didn't make it into the final film said something that really interested me. I asked the question, why do you do Botox? And she said, "Because when I look in the mirror, I just feel like there's more time to get things done." That was very revealing because I did not want this to be a film about women whining or about ageism. I wanted to make it more universal and to kind of turn the subject on its head, which I think I was able to achieve.