Friday, May 13, 2011

Pierre Thoretton's Yves Saint Laurent doc L'AMOUR FOU opens: Why, Yves--you dog!

What a strange little documentary is L'AMOUR FOU (crazy love in Eng-lish), as it takes us ever-so-slowly up to the front door of the life of late and eminent fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent -- and then leaves us there, waiting to get in. We definitely move ahead into the fashions and interiors that comprised YSL's work and home(s). But as for getting to know the men who lived and worked there -- Yves and his lover and business partner Pierre Bergér -- we learn little more about who they are/were by the end of this movie than we knew when we started.

Granted, the late YSL was a very private person, as the film makes clear. So, probably, is the still-with-us M.Bergér. Consequently, instead of entering the hearts and minds of the two, the film, co-written (with Eve Guillon) and directed by Pierre Thoretton (shown at right), enters their homes (in Paris and Morocco) and their workplace (the studio, the runways and various media events). While the episodes devoted to fashion and the workplace are not particularly new or exciting (from what the movie offers, YSL designs do not look likely to stand the test of time), what we see of the homes -- interiors and exteriors in Marrakech (below), interiors in Paris -- are something else.

No interior shots (the best thing about the movie) are provided among the stills we could find, so you will have to see the film to appreciate the very high level of taste on display. These interiors -- full of objets d'art, carpets, sofas, and more -- that work both indivi-dually and as a collection are among the most beautiful I have ever seen. (The entire collection was sold at auction after YSL's demise.)

The designer's fashion sense, however, so far as concerns beautifying or dignifying women, leaves a lot to be desired: far too much crass over class. From his first and much raved-about "Trapeze" collection for the House of Dior (under whom YSL first came into recognition), though "new" at the time, now looks like nothing so much as a clever means of disguising pregnancy. A ludi-crous bridal collection is given much play here, as is YSL's far smarter, svelte styles based on the designs of Piet Mondrian.

Said to be pathologically shy, YSL certainly seemed to get over that affliction. (That's a shot of Yves and Pierre, above.) His partying days -- surprise!-- offer the usual drugs and alcohol, separation and reconciliation, then depression and withdrawal from public life. It's all here but in little detail or specifics. At one point we're treated to a kind of home movie that Yves and Pierre put together, in which we learn, among other things, that Yves (shown below, kaftan-clad in his Marrakech digs) prefers his male bodies very hairy.

Thoretton's film begins with a speech YSL gave upon his retirement from fashion, followed by another given by Bergér, upon his lover/partner's death. These are moving and filled with some surprising specifics, and nothing that follows even begins to top them -- except some of those visuals. I'd see the film again  for its interiors alone, but I came away thinking, "What an empty life!"  It may not have been, but the movie makes it appear so. In the end, this seems less like L'amour fou than L'amour fou d'argent.

The documentary, from Sundance Selects, opens Friday, May 13, at IFC Center. Look for it on VOD, as well, come May 25.

No comments: