Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
Yves Saint Laurent
As we saw in 2011, the documentary "L'amour Fou" proved a richly wonderful documentary about Yves Saint Laurent, the genius and iconoclastic designer who lived to break the mold.
The film was such a success and Yves Saint Laurent is such a Pop, provocative figure that it seems the public wants more films available and ready-to-see.
Disappointingly, a new film does not fit the man.
Where the previous film was vibrantly propulsive and thoughtful with a real sense of time and place, this film self-consciously titled "Yves Saint Laurent", only gives a coloring book treatment to the electricity of this man.
Directed by the actor Jalel Lespert (Tell No one) the film starts out satisfactorily enough by showing a nervous young man in his room, sketching in great concentration. He is surrounded by paper dolls. Young, dark haired and feverish, he recalls an adolescent Garcia Lorca, somewhat effeminate and shy. Yves is an artist machine, a galvanic boy of graphite and paper, a Warhol twin.
In the role of Yves, Pierre Niney gives his incarnation an anxious jittery and nervous edge, making him a bit like Kafka and this is interesting.
Sadly, there isn't much for Niney's character to do. Aside from a few brief flashes of anxiety and tension, he is a shadow. There is no body to go with the man. The film appears to gloss over much of this person with scarce detail.
Yves Saint Laurent becomes the head of Christian Dior in his 20s. He is a speed train. Then he is drafted in the war and has a breakdown, but we don't know why or any specifics. Yves gets released, finds investors and revolutionizes fashion with his mod and spaced out line based on Mondrian.
The film hits all the key points of the designer's life , but it is shaded over with such an impersonal tone that all the movement is too much window dressing, following a conventional biopic sequence from struggling youth to genius to a struggle once more making the cinematography appear predetermined.
The successful designer was eaten up by self doubt and addicted to coke and some rough and anonymous intimacy. It is hinted that he had a martyr complex. Why not show this instead of telling us? The biography drily glazes over parties and fights but we see very little of interest or provocation for such a progressive and singular subject.
Pierre Bergé (Guillaume Gallienne), Yves' love and partner, is mere cardboard here, acting as a guardian without curve or distinction.
Despite the pulse of the previously mentioned "L'amour Fou", there is only a tepid floridity here.
Once again, we are given the barest indication (aside from some decadent catwalk shots) as to what made the artist's life so vexing and full of motion, beyond his remarkable accomplishments which are duly checked through here.
Marrakech is just a dialogue stream as is the Studio 54 like scenarios. What of the speed, where is the space that defined the era, with one bespectacled man in the center of the storm: Yves Saint Laurent, a black crayon with feet?
"Yves Saint Laurent" the film, only composes a veneer of such a creative and iconically recognizable mover of fashion.
Write Ian at email@example.com