This is a fine biopic about the great French designer Yves Saint Laurent, and his lover and partner Pierre Bergé. The film starts in 1958 with Saint Laurent working for Christian Dior. After Dior’s death, he becomes head of the House of Dior. After a disastrous short stay in the military, and a nervous breakdown, he is fired from the House of Dior. Despite being diagnosed with manic depression, he decides to open his own designer house. Pierre Bergé turned out to be a fierce businessman. Yves Saint Laurent changed the world of fashion forever. With them we go through the different fashions and cultural trends of the 60s and 70s. Bergé had to deal with Saint Laurent’s alcoholism and drug addictions along with some erratic behavior. Yves Saint Laurent is classically directed by French actor/director Jalil Lespert. He is also not afraid to show the dark side of fame in the fashion industry. As expected, it is a feast to the eyes. Some of the dresses are the original Yves Saint Laurent’s, others were done for the film by costume designer Madeline Fontaine. Pierre Niney’s Saint Laurent is a man who lives for his art, and yet suffers terribly because of it. A scene early in the film shows Saint Laurent in a psychiatric hospital. Depressed, with a mental illness and just fired, he probably thought he would never work again. Niney nails everything perfectly, as he does for the whole film. Pierre Bergé is a less showy part, but Guillaume Gallienne plays him with such a quiet intensity that it re-energizes the film. And Gallienne shows that if Bergé was a loving, caring man, he could also be terribly cruel and manipulative. There is a good turn by Quebec actress Charlotte Le Bon who plays Victoire, a model and friend of Saint Laurent. Some will find it too conventional. It is. But it is nevertheless very well made and acted.
You should know… There was a documentary in 2010. Pierre Thoretton’s Yves Saint Laurent – Pierre Bergé, l’amour fou was of course about the relationship between the two men, but for the most part was about their personal art collection, and the 2009 auction held at Christie’s. Over a three-day sale in Paris, 733 items were sold for a record-breaking 370 million euros (520 million Canadian dollars), with the proceeds proposed for the creation of a new foundation for AIDS research. In the documentary Thoretton interviews Pierre Bergé and has footage from the auction. But there is a another film set to be released in 2014. Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent stars: Gaspard Ulliel as the designer and Jérémie Renier as Bergé ( review at https://loveatthemovies.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/saint-laurent/).
Yves Saint Laurent
Based on the book by Laurence Benaïm
Charlotte Le Bon
Marie de Villepin
In French and some English,
Russian, Arabic, and Japanese
with English subtitles.