Saturday, March 28, 2020

Can't get enough of YSL? Try Olivier Meyrou's Saint Laurent/Pierre Bergé doc, CELEBRATION

In a very real sense, it is unfair to call CELEBRATION -- the documentary from filmmaker Olivier Meyrou (shown below) -- the most recent of all the several film about Yves Saint Laurent (or YSL), the famous fashion designer who died in 2008. Though it only hit USA theaters last fall, it was actually made back in 2007 and has spent the remaining dozen years in movie limbo because, from what I can ascertain, although it was commissioned by Saint Laurent's lover and business partner, Pierre Bergé, M. Bergé then decided it was too revealing and refused to allow it to be shown.

Bergé is now dead, and so the film, so to speak, has finally come alive.

The ironic joke here is that Celebration is revealing, all right, but almost exclusively about the character -- pompous, controlling, power-hungry and sleazy -- of Bergé himself. We learn next to nothing about Yves Saint Laurent (show below), except that he is clearly very ill and barely able to function any longer.

Because M. Meyrou, with his fly-on-the-wall camerawork and never-intrusive presence, covers only the behind-the-scenes (along with some upfront) preparations for YSL's final show, and a bit of the show itself, as well as some sort of awards ceremony for this famous designer, we get little historical perspective and no narration whatsoever.

Instead we rely quite a bit on the musings of some of the older workers for YSL, who babble on amusingly about everything from the layout of their former quarters, which dresses were sewn by whom, and -- when a parade of models shows off YSL's eclectic-but-not-terribly-creative gowns in a stadium-like setting -- exclaim in awe: "The whole world will see this! This is France!" Oh, please: Let's hope not.

Some of the film is devoted to an interview between a fashion reporter and YSL (above). Her questions, however, are not particularly probing, nor are his answers revealing of much we either don't know or could not quickly figure out for ourselves. Her praise for the designer, along with that of just about everyone else we see and hear in the movie, is effusive in its use of superlatives. If we had a nickle for every time someone opens his/her mouth with another hype -- "Magnificent!" "Brilliant!" "Wonderful!" "Incredible!" -- we might becomes millionaires. (I exaggerate, but you get the point.)

Plus, we have already seen several movies -- both narrative and documentary -- about YLS and Bergé to perhaps not need very much more added to our overflowing plate: a doc made for French TV titled Yves Saint Laurent: 5 avenue Marceau 75116 Paris, the not uninteresting 2011 doc called L' Amour Fou, the paint-by-numbers and cliche-ridden tripe of Yves Saint Laurent from 2014, and Bertrand Bonello's fantasia on fashion, fame, celebrity and culture Saint Laurent (also from 2014 and certainly the best of the bunch).

What does Celebration add to all this? Not much, I'm afraid. Although the little dog of YSL and Bergé provides some fun here, this tiresome movie itself is mostly a dog -- unless of course you're a huge fashion aficionado and/or can't get enough of YSL.

From 1091 and running just 74 minutes, Celebration becomes available this coming Tuesday, March 31, via digital and VOD -- for purchase and rental.

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