Sunday, June 14, 2009 | 12:01 p.m.
As the daughter of a plastic surgeon, Mitch McCabe grew up watching her father improve people. A noble career that was started to help people with physical deformities has become a multibillion-dollar industry for supplying self-esteem with a scalpel.
McCabe found a way to make her examination of plastic surgery compelling, informative and highly personal. Featuring interviews with doctors, writers and plastic-surgery dilettantes, Youth Knows No Pain is McCabe’s search for the answer to her own war on wrinkles. She pulls us into her world using animation, reenactments of her childhood and home videos. She even steps in front of the camera, putting herself in her subjects’ place.
But the real heart and soul of the documentary comes from her extended interviews with those plastic-surgery dilettantes. McCabe found characters who are too unbelievable to be made up: Norman based his facial rejuvenation on Jack Nicholson. And Julia and Mary are 20-somethings who get every imperceptible line Botoxed away. But McCabe’s most in-depth portrait is of Sherry, who spent $35,000 rebuilding herself and her self-confidence.
Youth could use a nip here and a tuck there to streamline its story, but its imperfections are almost as unnoticeable as Julia and Mary’s wrinkles.