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"Saint Laurent" (2014 release; 150 min.) is another bio-pic on the fashion designer. As the movie opens, it is "1974", where we see Yves checking into a hotel in Paris under the name "Swann". We see him making a call to presumably a reporter, informing him that he's ready for the interview. The movie then jumps to "1967", and the fashion house is in full swing to get its latest collection of "haute couture" ready We get to appreciate how Yves goes about as he is working, always with classical music on. At this time we are barely 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: first, you may remember that last year produced not one, but two YSL bio-pics out of France: there was "Yves Saint Laurent", and then there was this. The former is well-intended but wafer-thin, lacking any depth. No such problem with this movie, which takes you into the world of YSL, both the person and the business, and then some. Writer-director Bertrand Bonello has the audacity (and I mean it in the best possible way) of letting scenes develop slowly but with purpose. Check the scene early in the movie (in 1968) where YSL is at a night club. CCR's I Put A Spell On You comes blasting on, and eventually a gorgeous blonde steps onto the dance floor and dances to the music. YSL watches, and watches, and watches, and eventually decides to approach her: "You need to come work for me, I will design a collection for you". By then we are almost at the end of CCR's song, which played for minutes on. It is one of the best scenes of the movie, but it certainly is not the only time that Bonello uses this technique. The last 45 min. are also the best, as only then we get a glimpse of YSL's youth, and the movie also flashes forth towards his last days, all the while as we continue to see him in 1977. Fascinating. At some point, while trying to come up with yet another new collection, YSL sighs "I created a monster and now I have to live with it", wow. Gaspard Ulliel, an unknown to me, is brilliant in the role of YSL. Please note: there are several scenes with full male frontal nudity. Last but not least, director Bonello also composed the occasional score for the movie, but he also collected a ton of great songs for the movie from that era (CCR, Velvet Underground, the Four Seasons, as well as several classical music pieces from Maria Callas, just to name those). "Saint Laurent" had 10 nominations for the French equivalent of the Oscars, and it's easy to see why. This is an ambitious and mostly successful bio-pic.
I saw the other YSL bio-pic about a year ago and was eagerly awaiting this one. Not sure why it has taken this long, but "Saint Laurent" finally opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and I went to see it right away. The matinée screening where I saw this at was attended better than expected (I wouldn't have been shocked had there only been a couple of people). Bottom line: even it is a bit overlong, "Saint Laurent" is easily the better of the two YSL bio-pics from last year, so I'd readily recommend you check this out, be it in the theater, or eventually on VOD or DVD/Blu-ray. "Saint Laurent" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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