Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
"L'amour Fou" is a haunting, colorful and heartfelt documentary of Yves Saint Laurent by Pierre Thoretton. At the very start, the bright credits of contrasting colors and Cocteau-inspired arabesques pull you in and never let you go. The film, as it tumbles across the screen is a picaresque voyage of pushes and pulls, as twisting and as tearful as any red Moroccan road.
We are brought at once face to face with Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent's lifelong friend and lover. In his small barrel body, Berge's brain is a locked vault of love and affection for his friend who passed away in 2008. Standing in Saint Laurent's Paris library, he appears a bit like Peter Sellers in "Being There": his dapper,tailored form, and his passive expression is at odds with his sudden lively mind. Berge sits quietly and waits. Every object has a history, every room a story and every country a face that reflects Saint Laurent's silver countenance.
At first glance, Saint Laurent appears charming and full of giggles, a bit camera-shy. Seen with Andy Warhol, the likeness between the two young wonders is astounding: both are pale and reticent with hasty smiles and nervous gestures.
They could be twins.
We see Saint Laurent in the 1960s with Andy, eating and drinking and seeming to have a really good time. During an interview, after a show, he is asked what he would rather be doing.
"I'd like to be young again and just go off somewhere and really have some fun. But I'm in this cage. It's too late." Saint Laurent smiles and gives a sheepish grin, giggling as a young boy.
When we next see Berge he is packing Yves' collection for an auction. Again he sits on a sofa and silently waits for the "undertakers of art" to arrive at his door. We learn that Saint Laurent had terrible struggles with depression. Saint Laurent was apparently hazed and victimized during military service and given psychoactive drugs. The depression was to plague him throughout his life. Berge as a result handled all of the domestic and business duties regarding the house of Laurent. Abruptly we see Saint Laurent as if in shadow, brooding and frenzied. In still photos of the early 80's, Yves' happy face is gone. His polished face now lined.
The camera moves with a slow undulation through every house and every room Saint Laurent ever stayed in. Berge sits carefully in each house, in each room and every doorway. He softly walks through the out of the way place in Paris, to the colorful oasis in Morocco, to the forest house in Normandy. Berge himself becomes a camera and we wait along with him, half expecting Yves Saint Laurent to emerge from behind a velvet curtain as a ghost of love.
Every home is suited for a different purpose, to work or to play. House after house is Berge's Taj Mahal: An architectural monument to the memory of Yves Saint Laurent, living, working and loving away from the catwalk.
Saint Laurent was a trailblazer of haute couture fashion. He was the first to use ethnic models. He unabashedly titled his perfume "Opium" when it was not politically correct. Not to mention his blazers and boots, which gave women a new sense of allure and authority.
Yves Saint Laurent lives on in the mental landscape of Pierre Berge. Once the auction is through and the Brancussi sculpture is hauled away with the Matisses, Braques, and Warhols, Berge glares directly into the camera. His expression is a dare, challenging the camera to record something hateful or untrue.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org