Yves Saint Laurent – L’amour fou

5 Jul

Title: Yves Saint Laurent – L’amour fou
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Pierre Thorreton
Writer: 
Starring: 
Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé, Betty Catroux
MPAA Rating: 
Not rated
Runtime: 
98 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 
54%

Yves Saint Laurent, the French couturier, died in 2008 and left behind a legacy in the real sense of the word, countless examples of masterful fashion and anecdotes for people to relish. And so we now get this documentary, Yves Saint Laurent – L’amour Fou, an alluring look into the life of the great legend who even though was constantly surrounded by beauty in every incarnation of the word, still led a life in which he battled with depression, the ultimate example that no matter how many material things you may have and how much people may revere you, that doesn’t necessarily mean happiness comes along with it.

He was a man consumed by his work, truly giving himself to his art, his friends saying that the two days of the year in which the man was truly happy and not as depressed were the ones in which he showed a new collection at the runways. And to see Pierre Bergé, Mr. Saint Laurent’s partner both in life and in business, narrate this story is pretty amazing, not because it manages to provide a fascinating and deep look into the life of Yves Saint Laurent, because if anything this one feels sort of passive in how deep it went, but because you get to see the material treasures these two collected over the years. And treasures really is the right word to use in this case, Mr. Saint Laurent got incredibly attached to the material possessions he adored, we are told by Mr. Bergé, and we are shown to great lengths what these possessions were, possessions which were auctioned off by Mr. Bergé in 2009 for nearly $500 million.

And that’s sort of the approach the movie takes, one built around that 2009 auction at Christie’s, and it also backtracks as Mr. Bergé remembers the day when they met in the late 50’s, when Mr. Saint Laurent’s rule over the world of fashion was beginning. Mr. Bergé would then become the constant in Mr. Saint Laurent’s life, the man without whom the huge fashion empire probably would’ve collapsed, because he was a rock to the late fashion great, and also a man who shared his passion for buying these huge houses and filling them with the greatest pieces of art in the world. And in a way, that’s what the film focusses on, not just on those material possessions the two accumulated, but on the memories Mr. Bergé has of the man he spent so much of his life with, memories that are edited in a way that doesn’t really permit a huge enveloping retrospective, nor does it really go all gossipy by delving too much on the wild years of Mr. Saint Laurent’s life, but that still show us some pretty neat things along the way.

I don’t really know if this is a documentary that would’ve benefited from being more of that, a sort of exhaustive look into just the life of the man, because there have been at least two prior ones dedicated to just that, instead this one is an affectionate look at his life, for sure, but deconstructing it not from a biographical standpoint but from one far more linked to that huge art collection he and Mr. Bergé shared in their five decades together. The title of the film “L’amour fou” translates basically to mad love, and that’s pretty much an accurate description of what the two had, Yves Saint Laurent was this creative genius who had his encounter with drinks and drugs while Pierre Bergé was the guy who was by him side the whole time, doing the little things, keeping up with the details to make sure the man he loved didn’t fall apart.

And that’s what helps this film, the fact that it has Mr. Bergé, even when this seems detached from its subject and just appears to function as some sort of aesthetic tour of the possessions amassed by this man through the years, you still have the man he shared his life with guiding you through it all, which makes it a really fascinating tour to take, not to mention that considering that nothing about Mr. Saint Laurent was ordinary and that everything he owned was spectacular in one way or another, you’ll certainly be left in awe at some of the stuff he had. And it’s cool to see Mr. Bergé explain that he isn’t selling the stuff because of the money, but because without Mr. Saint Laurent alive most of them had lost their meaning, and interesting to find that the documentary didn’t go into the fact that he led a gay relationship with a man for 50 years in a time when that wasn’t really common at all.

Even though Yves Saint Laurent – L’amour fou isn’t the greatest fashion-themed documentary to come out in recent years, that honor would go to 2009’s The September Issue, it’s still a very decent look at a great late iconic figure of the fashion world who was a notoriously shy man. As it opens with footage of Yves Saint Laurent announcing his retirement nearly a decade ago, it opens with real strength, as a documentary that’s to say something, and while it never really did that, never really standing out of the pack as a truly wonderful exploration of its subject, it’s still a documentary definitely done with love towards the people it portrayed and even though it might not have focussed so much on the “mad” part of it all, it had a lot of the “love” part of it, and that makes it as good as it is.

Grade: B

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