Monday, June 23, 2014

This year's biggest waste of time so far: the Lespert/Niney/Gallienne YVES SAINT LAURENT

For anyone who found the 2010 documentary L'amour fou -- about Yves Saint Laurent and his business partner/lover Pierre Bergér -- lovely to look at if a little weak in the characterization department, hold on to your hat. The new and much-marketed narrative movie about the pair, titled simply YVES SAINT LAURENT, offers even less. In every department. You might imagine that, within the 106-minute running time, some revealing specifics regarding character might surface. Sure, YSL was a notoriously private person, but the whole point of a narrative version, one would imagine, is to delve more deeply and then show us the man beneath the glamour and gowns. Good luck. Not only is the movie tiresome and repetitive, but the people are mostly boring.

I am particularly unmoored by how truly awful this movie is because one of the two lead actors and the film's director are favorites of mine, from whom I expect a lot. And while Pierre Niney, shown below, who plays YSL, does as much as he can with the far-too-constrained script, the film's director and co-writer Jalil Lespert, at right, whom I have long admired as an actor, has not gone one inch beyond the expected and the clichéd as a filmmaker. What in the world were they thinking?

Let's start with the really lousy fake nose they've given poor M. Niney. It's so noticeable, particularly because it does not move like a real nose. Then let's tackle how the filmmakers decided to show his character: by making it clear that YSL was a workhorse who cared most about his dresses -- and repeating this fact over and over again.

YSL's relationship with his family is likewise made one-note, mostly a mom issue (played by Marianne Basler, above), sans any relevant details. The fact that the man is socially somewhat retarded and is finally brought out into the world via drugs and sex (which make it easier for him to relax and relate) is also handed to us on a platter -- which we're fed from once too often.

About M. Bergér (played by Guillaume Gallienne, above, left, who was so much more interesting in his awarding-winning Me, Myself and Mum) we learn next to nothing, other than he was evidently bi-sexual. We see little of the amazing possessions the two managed to collect over their lives together (see the doc version for that). There's a smattering of business talk now and then, but none of it exactly entices.

The fashions, such as they are, roll by us with regularity and not much else. You'll learn much more about these from the documentary version, as well. In any case, there's more drama in the pleat of an YSL skirt than in the entire movie, the height of which arrives when one character slaps another in the face. Wow!

Perhaps the filmmaking team wanted only to stick with the facts as known -- generally a mistake where a narrative film is concerned because part of the point of this format is the opportunity to extrapolate and invent. (YSL's leading model/muse -- for awhile, at least -- is played by the glamorous Charlotte Le Bon, shown above and below).

As the movie drags on, you can't quite bring yourself to believe that this is all there is. Surely there will be something more? Then -- poof! -- it's over and the end credits are rolling. And we're rolling our eyes.

So unendingly tiresome and boring are these people and their "scene" that one is almost tempted to suggest that M. Lespert has given us something utterly subversive here: Showing up the fashion world -- together with its kings, queens and clothes -- for the empty, worthless shell game that it is.

Yves Saint Laurent, from The Weinstein Company, opens at Film Forum (a rather strange venue for a stinker like this) on Wednesday, June 25, for a two-week run. Elsewhere? Surely, yes. But don't expect much help from the TWC's current web page on the film....

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