When world famous wallpaper designer Florence Broadhurst was murdered in 1977, it was shocking. Who would kill a woman in her fifties and not steal anything? Why would someone do this? After it happened, the mystery deepened but not just because the murderer was never found. The true mystery unspooled because facts of Broadhurst’s life were revealed and it was soon discovered, no one had any idea who this woman was. In fact, she wasn’t even in her fifties, she was seventy six!
Director Gillian Armstrong brings an amazing story about an amazing woman to the masses in her doc, “Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst.” This film will draw comparisons to the Robert Evans masterpiece “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” but in many ways, Florence Broadhurst lead a much more intriguing life.
She was born in the Australian outback but always told everyone she was British. Since this was the 1940’s through the 1970s, no one could do a google search and find out the truth. They took her at her word and Broadhurst used that to her every advantage. After becoming a singer and touring the world, she became a painter in Australia, a fashion boutique owner, a friend of the Queens and an upper level socialite. Yet no one ever really knew who she was, and that was the way Broadhurst wanted it. She created her own life complete with backstory and succeeded at being whatever she set out to be.
“Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst” is not only refreshing in the unique way Armstrong plays with images on the screen, but also for the fact that we rarely see films about self made women. In a world dominated by Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump and all the other mega self made millionaires, we finally see a woman who did exactly what she wanted to do on her own terms. This film is an engaging look at a person who has slipped by the radar of many for so long. It’s also an interesting study on self-confidence, drive and vision to become who you want to be.