#REVIEW: “SAINT LAURENT”
Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
A wonderful scene occurs at the halfway point in SAINT LAURENT. A rich, middle-aged Patron is in the studio of Fashion Legend, Yves Saint Laurent, where she had just tried on a suit made exclusively for her by the World- renowned Designer and she is extremely uncomfortable. She tells him the suit feels manly on her. Looking her over and within minutes and a few minor adjustments (a scarf, a belt, telling her to let down her hair), he transforms this uptight Woman into a graceful epitome of femininity and confidence. That scene encapsulates the power and genius of Yves Saint Laurent: he instinctively knew how to make women look and feel beautiful.
Nominated for 10 César Awards (the French equivalent of the Oscars), SAINT LAURENT is the second Movie from France about the iconic fashion Designer. Rather than go the traditional Biopic route, Director and Co-Writer Bertrand Bonello focuses on the years 1966 to 1976 and to his credit, he brilliantly captures that decade in the same style that Art Movies were filmed then. The Camerawork is ablaze with colour and movement as Bonello masterfully throws us in the midst of the hedonist lifestyles and parties. Already famous in 1966, YSL (whose clients included Catherine Deneuve) comes across as shy, soft-spoken and giddy with the excitement and creativity of his work.
The insanely handsome and dreamy Gaspard Ulliel, who is best known here from the Martin Scorsese-directed TV Commercial for the Bleu de Chanel Men’s Cologne, beautifully captures the essence of the Man. Inspired by his Muses, Socialite Loulou de la Falaise (Léa Seydoux,) and Model Betty Catroux (Aymeline Valade) and emotionally supported by his Lover and Business Partner, Pierre Berge (Jérémie Renier), YSL leads a charmed and financially rewarding life until he meets and has an affair with Karl Lagerfeld’s Companion, the fashion-forward Jacques de Bascher (played with malicious glee by über-Hunk Louis Garrel). De Bascher introduces YSL to a world of excess; the copious use of cocaine and other drugs along with kinky sex and orgies. It fueled YSL’s emotional downward spiral from which he never truly recovered from until his death in 2008.
Other than a small quibble that the final scenes of SAINT LAURENT, where Helmut Berger portrays the elderly YSL as frail and delusional, are unnecessary and those final years are better explored in the Documentary L’Amour Fou, this Movie is a glorious feast for the eyes. It made me long for the days when everyone went to nightclubs dressed to kill and wearing their finest. It was an era of elegance and decadence combined. YSL’s sartorial creations are exquisitely filmed to the point you can see the luxury in the materials he used. Even now, it is impossible not to see YSL’s influence on Fashion and Lifestyle. In a day where perfumes and colognes are given provocative names, it took YSL to fight and win the battle to call his signature Fragrance Opium, which was then considered to be scandalous.
SAINT LAURENT is audacious, sexy, inspiring and, at times, harrowing and heartbreaking. I can’t wait to see it again!
Mongrel Media release SAINT LAURENT in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver on Friday, May 22, 2015.