The French Cinema has, over the past few years, produced some interesting biopics of their celebrated achievers: Piaf, Chanel and now Yves Saint Laurent. Although these are warts et tous they reflect a national pride which we do not often see in British cinema
Yves Saint Laurent was played by Pierre Niney and well. I imagined him as the super cool couturier but he was rather a nervous callow youth who started with Christian Dior and then aged 26 set up his own fashion house. He was greatly assisted by his astute partner Pierre Bergy, again well represented by Guillaume Gallienne. Both are from Comedie Francaise, reflecting as does happen in British cinema, the crossover from theatre to film. The film also shows that as success and wealth materialise, so does the descent into alcoholism, drugs and general excess.
It had its longeurs and my companion noted a failure to show the early rise from Oran to Dior but I enjoyed it. It has been criticised for being more style than substance, but the same could be said of the fashion industry he dominated. I find such a industry fascinating, as I did the tensions between the 2 partners as Laurent became more hedonistic and unfaithful. It also depicted a gay world of casual sex, numerous partners and liaisons. The night club and scenes of excess did drag the film in the second half but Laurent never early lost his touch. Despite poor health, he could still create new designs and trends, notably a whole range based on the abstract colour blocks of Piet Mondrian. Walking back on a balmy night through elegant Mayfair, we reflected on what an interesting city London is. My companion said the film did not resonate so much with her, which made me conclude that whilst it was well acted and the central study is engaging, you probably need to like France and the fashion world to enjoy it as much as I did.