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I finally watched Laurence Anyways & was not disappointed. The story
had truth dripping from every fiber. I'm just blown away by the whole
production. Some visually breathtaking scenes that create absolute
magic are just the icing on the cake, top notch all the way. The acting
was powerful & spot on, not once did I see the actors and not the
characters. I'm not familiar with the director but based off of this
movie I'm intrigued to look a little deeper.
Laurence Anyways should be destined to become a cult classic once it finds a wider audience, and not just in the gay/trans-gendered community. Calling it a potential cult classic doesn't do it justice though as it has the values of an Oscar contender in my opinion. If the story sounds in the least but interesting to you, you would be doing yourself a huge disservice to let this one pass you by. It's long at over two and a half hours but doesn't drag, it's one of those movies that you hope will never end.
Is this movie Canadian? The credits would suggest so, if it is it's the best Canadian movie I've ever scene (I'm Canadian & have seen more then a few). Don't let that sound like personal bias as I went in not knowing anything about it's production. If this movie doesn't (or hasn't) won awards then there is no justice in the world of cinema.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having completed his third feature, it's safe to say that Canadian
filmmaker Xavier Dolan is slowly working his way into the elite circle
of auteur cinema. His feature debut, "J'ai tué ma mère" might have been
a tad too 'art pour l'art' for it's own good, but that was something
that was easily discarded given the fact that we were dealing with a
young filmmaker who was most likely sending a personal and poignant
story into the world. "Les Amours Imaginaires", on the other hand, was
quirky and lush, its story universal, but personally missed a cult
status due to a lack of character complexion underneath its glossy
images and style. "Laurence Anyways", Dolan's newest effort, suffers
from all the shortcomings of his previous films.
Film is the art of showing, not telling. The imagery of Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) sitting in front of his literature class in a sweat, looking envious at his female pupils while wearing paper clips as nail extensions, says it all. This man is not comfortable in his body, he realizes he's been living a lie for all these years and that his true nature lies in the transformation of his body to a woman's body. Two problems: we're in the late 80's, where trans-genders are still regarded as psychotic patients, and last but not least, girlfriend and love-of-his-life Fred (Suzanne Clément) who - upon hearing the news - concludes that "everything she loves about him, he hates about himself". It's a nice quote, would it not be that, like so many other lines in the film, it's a tad too explicit and overly dramatic.
Therein lies the core problem of Dolan's newest effort: the subtleties of his two previous - smaller - films have suddenly evaporated when being confronted to the enormity of this project (Did he really think that butterfly escaping Laurence's mouth would dazzle anyone? Have some respect for your audience!). And that is a real shame, given that this is the kind of challenging love story we rarely get to see on screen. The first issue arises with the narrative frame Dolan uses for the movie: Did we really need the journalist as a narrative hook? This story-line barely brings new information to the film, and her character is as cliché as playing 'Fade to Grey' to a 90's party. The inclusion of a group of hags is what bothered me the most. Both in style as in writing, these scenes did not seem to fit the story at all. Why go for explicit kitsch when you have such a gorgeous and pure, yet unconventional, love story at hand?
If his writing might be too vain, his directing has become less focused. Although I'm the first to appreciate a different aspect ratio, Dolan's choice (which seems to lie somewhere in between 3:4 and 1.37:1) is not backed up by his director of photography. If a director decides to crop the image for the viewer, why crop it in the imagery again? And the static or traveling tableaux which made his previous films so different have now been replaced by a lot of camera-on-shoulder shots with its distracting movements (and very bad focus pulling, I must say), almost similar to the heydays of Dogme. Unfortunately for him, Dolan is not a Dogme-editor.
Which leads me to the biggest problem of "Laurence Anyways": why not kill your darlings, Xavier? As an auteur, who wrote and directed this film, it might not be the best choice to edit the film yourself. Because of this, Dolan comes of as an eager film student, wanting the audience to appreciate his every artistic outburst and wit. This works for about an hour or so, but there's also a limit to the amount of aesthetic slow-motions, jump-cuts and zoom-ins you subject your audience to. I'm such a big fan of breaking the narrative for more an exuberant cinematic approach (when Fred enters the party, for example), but restraint is an art form that Xavier Dolan has not even heard of yet. It was forgivable for a feature debut, but when you're up to your third feature length film, some restraint is expected of you. While I am certain that an editor might have been able to cut this film from its 2 hours and 40 minutes length to under two hours (as previously mentioned, getting rid of some distracting subplots) the ultimate story would have been better balanced and come out stronger. As it is now, I found myself slipping in and out of the film, this long journey did not seem to be worth the trouble.
And yet, ironically, it is worth the trouble. The movie goes into an emotional roller coaster in the last thirty minutes (Moderat's "A new error" might have something to do with my sudden peak of interest) where one can't help but empathize with these two flawed characters, stuck in a cruel world (and a weird aspect ratio). Poupaud acts as expected, but it's Clément that steals the show. Although her performance isn't always spellbinding - due to a myriad of problems, aforementioned as well as unmentioned due to spoilers - she does, however, shine at each emotional turning point, making her both the protagonist and star of the film. Nathalie Baye and Chokri give good supportive performances, although, sadly, their characters don't get enough screen-time (we meet again, sweet irony) to stand out.
So, would I recommend "Laurence Anyways"? Depending on who you are. Those having not seen a Dolan-film yet might want to start with his shorter, more compact films that hit the mark slightly better than this one. But those who have loved his first two movies - like me - should definitely give this one a try, given that it might be the most grown-up story he has told so far, but unfortunately, also his most flawed.
I did, however, love Dolan's cameo.
Québécois actor, screenwriter and director Xavier Dolan's third feature
film which he wrote, premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the
65th Cannes International Film Festival in 2012, was screened in the
Special Presentations section at the 37th Toronto International Film
Festival in 2012 and is a France-Canada co-production which was shot on
locations in Canada, USA and France and produced by producers Charles
Gillibert, Nathanaël Karmitz and Lyse Lafontaine. It tells the story
about Laurence Alia, a literature teacher and writer in his mid-30s who
lives with his girlfriend Fred in Montreal. Laurence has always and
secretly felt like a woman living in a man's body, but when he tells
Fred that he is a transsexual and intends to become a woman, she is
confronted with a truth that alters her view on him and their
Distinctly and precisely directed by Québécois filmmaker Xavier Dolan, this finely paced fictional tale which is narrated from the two main characters viewpoints, draws an involving and multifaceted portrayal of a man's struggle towards becoming a complete person and a woman's struggle to come to terms with the fact that the man she loves isn't the man she thought he was and that he has decided to have a sex-change. While notable for its colorful milieu depictions, sterling production design by Canadian production designer Anne Pritchard, cinematography by cinematographer Yves Bélanger, fine costume design and editing by Xavier Dolan, make-up, use of colors, use of music and versatile style of filmmaking, this character-driven, narrative-driven and conversational story about identity and being accepted for who one really is, depicts two interrelated studies of character and contains a great score by the Canadian band NOIA.
This romantic, humorous, melodramatic and atmospheric pop-culture drama which is set mostly in Montreal during the late 1980s and 1990s and which affectively evokes its period, is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrative structure, substantial character development, quick-witted dialog, various characters, multiple perspectives, the prominent acting performances by French actor Melvil Poupaud, Canadian actress Suzanne Clément and the fine supporting acting performances by French actress Nathalie Baye and Canadian actress Monia Chokri. An epic, imaginative and remarkable love-story which encourages open-mindedness, confirms the vitality and importance of cinema as a visual art form and which gained, among several other awards, the award for Best Canadian Feature at the 37th Toronto Film Festival in 2012.
this film is one of the most breathtakingly stunning films i've seen in
years. it is remarkable not only in its challenging subject matter, its
ability to convey true, raw, complex human emotions and relationships,
but also its painfully beautiful cinematography and artistic skill. it
puts you inside the heads and minds of its truly human characters, the
way it was filmed....amazing. it is one of those films that defies
expectations, is multi-dimensional, is funny and heartbreaking...
i was riveted at every single moment, unable to tear my eyes away from the film...i needed to go to the bathroom early on in the movie, and yet sat through two more hours of agonizing bladder suffering because my mind was unwilling to let me tear myself from the screen. and afterwards, my friends and i were all shaking from the film. we couldn't stop talking about it.
watch laurence, anyways. it'll change your life.
My review is not gonna be long. It will not contain spoilers, either. I
made an account on IMDb only to rate this movie and to write a short
review, letting people know my opinion, so hopefully even more people
will watch this movie.
The acting, the scenes, the music - everything was for me completely breathtaking. Yes, its a long movie - but it's not just a movie, or one story out of an entire life - it's LIFE, it's several chapters. Of course it's long... it has to be. I, myself, wanted to keep watching when it was over. Because it wasn't over. The story hadn't finished. There was more. This is not a movie to entertain people. This is real life, real characters... no bullshit... Many scenes, changing times, development of the different characters... Love, pain, laughter, sorrow. I enjoyed EVERY bit. I never write reviews on anything - this is my first one I ever made on a movie, book, etc... I just finished watching it, and it had me sitting on my sofa with tears streaming down my face.
Even though this movie is about a man who has the wish to become a woman, and even though the couple's struggle kind of revolves around that, I could identify so much with some of the things they go through together. It doesn't matter whether he is a transvestite or not... It reflects very familiar feelings, and I believe that people who have loved deeply, who have loved hard and fiercely, they will recognize these feelings too. And no matter what, this is a great movie to educate people with potential prejudice against transsexual men or women.
I hope that more people will watch it.
Great performance... left me with a feeling of joy and sadness, all in once. I really, really loved this movie. And I will be watching it again, no doubt...
Thank you for that.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Laurence Anyways is a Canadian film written in French by Xavier Dolan.
The film is about Laurence and his girlfriend Fred living a life characterized by youthful happiness in the eighties France. Their lives change drastically when Laurence says that he is a transsexual. Fred does not know how to handle the situation, but because she loves Laurence, she chooses to stay with him and try to get it to work. His surroundings feel like they are losing the Laurence they know when he comes out, he loses his job and his mom does not want to meet him. Behind a wall of liberal good nature he will be disowned by his relatives. Somewhere along the way Fred and Laurence separate from each other.
The story takes place over ten years, and during that time so we moved between France and the United States. This moving is very understated in the film, and the film feels in any way authentic and present throughout the story. During these ten years, so meeting and parting Laurence and Fred for the unexpected assistance, and we may view a unique love story.
The film has a running time of over two and a half hours and with such a long time it is easy to get bored. But no, "Laurence Anyways" is a really good standards throughout the movie and I can hardly believe that almost three hours passed when the credits roll by. I sit there, with a sob in his throat and goose bumps on your arm, dumbfounded over the incredibly beautiful film I have just viewed. The film mixes precise accuracy with great seriousness. This creates a comfortable dynamics There are also contrasts between camera postures that make this film so lovable. It goes from standstill almost mechanical Kubrick-inspired angles, hand-held, shaky and easily zoomed in angles. While this creates a dynamic of contrasts that are rarely seen in today's movies. In today's unisex society fits this film perfectly, and Dolan have given all the characters androgynous name.
This Dolan movie you not consumes , you see it, rejoice and enjoy it, you remember it for its accuracy, we love it.
Best actor according to me: Suzanne Clément for the role of Frédérique.
This is a strong, disconcerting, highly unconventional movie that is
not easy to review, or to watch. Although it is the story of a
transgender experience and how it affects existing relationships, it is
much more than that.
The movie is so strong and so complex--and so long--that I'm reluctant to say much more about it, partly because I don't know much else to say about it now. I'll need to watch it at least one more time before I'm ready even to think about doing that. I can say, though, that anyone expecting a love story about attractive and sympathetic characters will be severely disappointed and probably angry.
Anyone expecting a positive account of what it's like to change gender identity will probably be disappointed too. Anyone who needs the orderly development of a story and the relatable characters that are essential in Hollywood movies will be furious after having sat through these nearly three hours of VERY unconventional and challenging movie-making.
Finally, anyone who enjoys picking a movie apart and saying what he or she would do to make it better--eliminate peripheral characters, cut an hour off the movie's length, etc--will have a field day with this one. Unfortunately for them (and for anyone who takes what they say seriously), they will have denied themselves most of what this remarkable movie offers them.
The only way to receive what a movie (or any other work of art) offers is to accept it AS IT IS, on its own terms, WITHOUT trying to analyze it or change it to fit some outside notion ("outside" meaning in YOUR mind, as opposed to the author's) of what it OUGHT to be.
Instead of trying to make this (or any other) movie "better", either make your own movie or let go of your compulsion to control what happens to you as you watch this one. If you don't like the experience, that's fine, but if you really believe you could have done it better, you're a fool. You're impressing (and cheating) nobody but yourself and anybody else who takes you seriously.
But anyone who wants to see the latest work of an extraordinarily gifted and original young artist (Xavier Dolan, who is not yet 25 years old), whose genius is exploding into the world with such power and such speed that even he probably can't explain everything he does--and is willing to let go, to give up control of the experience and see what DOLAN is showing you instead of what you want to see--will be changed by this astonishing movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First of all: This is Suzanne Clement's film! As far as I know I have
never before seen this amazing actress, who turned out to be the gem in
this actually quite uneven movie. It's her I remember, and her I tell
my friends about.
Being a transsexual woman myself and author of the acclaimed book "TransActions" - I was curious to see how Xavier Dolan had managed to turn this delicate subject matter into a praised movie not least since my transsexualism was what eventually caused the breakup from my wife of almost thirty-five years. Undeniably it's a very good movie, and Laurence's pain and anguish brought back memories I could have done without but there are angles I don't understand.
Having been in & out of the trans world since 1971 I have met numerous transvestites and transsexuals - and I have yet to see a man trying to pose as a woman with his usual male hair-cut; Make-up, a skirt, women's shoes and male hair. Also to suddenly go to work as a woman, without having told neither his colleagues nor his totally unprepared pupils. How smart is that? No wonder it didn't really work out.
A couple of the other reviewers mentioned the fact that handsome Melvil Poupaud turned into a not all that convincing woman. At first it bothered me as well, but with this being quite a common situation among transsexuals it actually added a realistic touch to the film. Regrettably this was effectively ruined when a woman interviewer with obvious warmth compliments Laurence on what a beautiful woman he is.
"He"? I guess this is my most substantial objection: Poupaud never managed to convince me that Laurence really is a woman. This is not a matter of looks but something you project, and I have met much more masculine looking trans women who are readily accepted as females at work and in society because this is what they "feel" like.
An amazing example of such projection in a movie is Felicity Huffman's stunning performance as male to female Bree, in Duncan Tucker's Transamerica. Even beautifully dressed as woman, she manages to convince me that behind the clothes she's still biologically a man.
Regrettably I have also met transsexual women like Laurence, who never really stop behaving like men - and who demand to be accepted and loved without even a trace of understanding for the feelings of those around them. My lasting impression is that this might actually be what the film's title hints at.
PS Don't you ever forget: Suzanne Clement is altogether lovely as Laurence's girlfriend Fred!
With this film, Xavier Dolan confirms his excellent style. The starring
is incredibly well-chosen (distinction for the actress). A photography
without mistake, there are numbers of beautiful shots. And too a good
soundtrack, that is very eclectic (french's or qubecois's songs,
classical's songs as Brahm or Bethoveen, or rock ballads), and first
and foremost an original screenplay. In fact, I found the plot very
interesting because I don't know film about the transsexualism. For a
discovery, we can't dream a better movie.
So, check out his film (Les amours imaginaires, J'ai tué ma mère are too to discover).
A young film maker watch this space. The Quebecois's cinema too.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Laurence Anyways', set in Quebec, is about a male poet and schoolteacher who starts cross-dressing. The film is rather predictable (he loses his job, his parents don't accept him, etc etc etc), but there are some very telling parts, such as when his hitherto-supportive girlfriend discovers she is pregnant - can she raise a child with a cross-dresser? The trouble is that while leading man Melvil Poupard has rather delicate features, he still doesn't look convincing as a woman but instead is stuck somewhere between Dana International and Dame Edna Everage; this makes it hard to take him seriously - unless that's meant to be the point.
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