Monday, August 15, 2016
Bertrand Bonello | Saint Laurent
remembrance of things past
by Douglas Messerli
Bertrand Bonello and Thomas Bidegain (screenplay), Betrand Bonello (director) Saint Laurent / 2014
Bertrand Bonello’s film Saint Laurent was the second Laurent film of 2014. Whereas Lespart’s version, while certain revealing many of Laurent’s excesses, focused more on his career, this second “unauthorized” movie, digs in its heals about expressing the more tawdry aspects of the great designer’s life.
And when we do catch glimpses at the designer’s creations, it is in the form of long stretches of the “time marches on” genre, in which models descending a long winding staircase of his atelier share a split screen listing the years as they pass across from a posting of black and white images of appropriate historical moments.
The one long scene in which we actually do get to see parts of an actual fashion show represents the famed Ballet Russes showing, featuring costumes which one cannot imagine anyone wearing to even the most over-the-top of events.
More convincing is the scene where a customer, Madame Duzer (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) arrives for a fitting of her Le Smoking tuxedo suit. As she suggests, it first looks all too masculine set against his finely chiseled face, but by adding a necklace, a belt, and letting down her coiffed hair, Saint Laurent brings entire outfit to life before our eyes.
One wonders, at moments, whether Saint Laurent, given his fairly long life-span of 71, ever slept—except for the moments he had passed out with drugs or been beaten in a near-coma. He begins the film by checking into a Paris hotel under the name Mr. Swann, a name taken obviously from Proust’s great series of fictions. When the clerk asks what he plans to do in Paris, Saint-Laurent suggests he has come there simply to “sleep.” But the moment he arrives, he is already on the telephone ready to give a long interview revealing the intricacies of his scandalous life. Later in the film, Bergé, saving his friend from that faux pas, threatens to sue the paper if they dare publish it.
At another point in the film, Bergé stomps into de Bascher’s apartment, forcing him to break off his relationship with Saint Laurent. One can only wonder, as does the designer, what he said that so successfully accomplished that breakup. As I wrote at the beginning of this two-part piece, I think it may be far more interesting to see a movie about Bergé than his brand-name protégé.
Los Angeles, August 15, 2016