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Yves Saint Laurent


Stars: Pierre Niney, Guillaume Gallienne, Charlotte Le Bon, Laura Smet, Marianne Basler, Xavier Lafitte, Marie de Villepin, Nikolai Kinski, Ruben Alves, Astrid Whetnall, Adeline D'Hermy, Jean-Edouard Bodziak, Alexandre Steiger, Michele Garcia, Olivier Pajot, Anne Alvaro

Director: Jalil Lespert

Biopics don’t come much glossier than this elegant tribute to legendary haute couture designer Yves Saint Laurent who, at 21, became world famous when he succeeded his recently deceased employer Christian Dior.

The (“Freely based on the work by Laurence Benaïm”) screenplay by director Jalil Lespert, Marie-Pierre Huster and Jacques Fieschi follows Saint Laurent through his time of fame and subsequent descent into a somewhat clichéd sex and drugs storyline along with charting his lifelong relationship with Pierre Bergé who becomes his lover and business partner after they meet at Yves’ first catwalk show…

Film fashionistas should find much to admire in Lespert’s glossy mise en scene. The movie, lushly photographed by Thomas Hardmeier and attractively designed by Aline Bonetto, reeks of glamour and frames its subject’s life in vivid imagery.

The rise, decline and fall drama, however, is all rather too predictable. (In line with current political correctness, Saint Laurent is obviously branded as irredeemably lost since he chain smokes!)

Fortunately Pierre Niney’s fine performance as Saint Laurent (“You know I’m not that nice”) goes a long way towards making the movie succeed rather well on its own lovely-to-look-at terms.

Unfortunately Lespert's decision to drench Yves Saint Laurent in enough loud music to fill several symphonies tends to irritate rather than add to the drama, and I found the models parading the catwalks in the many fashion shows seriously creepy: their blank, expressionless faces and automaton-style walking made them resemble the victims of extraterrestrial duplication in the 1956 original (and best) version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers).

Alan Frank

France 2014. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Colour by Eclair.
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 3, Swearing 2.

Review date: 22 Mar 2014