Thursday, 29 November 2012

REVIEW - LAURENCE ANYWAYS


Running for most of three hours, Xavier Dolan's third film as director is a moribund, monotonous drag (no pun intended), a chronicle of an unconventional relationship related in a conventional, uninvolving style. In fact, it's less a chronicle of a relationship than an examination of its two participants - even when they appear to be in harmony with each other, Dolan's focus is centred on them as individuals. Melvil Poupaud and Suzanne Clement display quite a lot of chemistry, and dig in deep to their roles, acting with the right amount of intensity. They don't once go over the top, although Dolan doesn't let them - his film is restrained to a fault, as he stretches it out in a futile attempt to convey the magnitude of this relationship in all its extraordinary complexity. But what magnitude? Close, honest relationships are intrinsically intimate, yet Dolan's depiction of this one is bloated and dreary. There's a framing device involving a journalist that suggests an epic biopic - this is not a radical decision, it is a misguided one. There are few genres in art as wretched as the epic biopic. He might as well have made Laurence Anyways a Western, or a Grand Guignol horror; it would have been more inappropriate, and perhaps a lot more fun because of that. The film does awake from its slumber on brief, sparsely-distributed occasions to exhibit a little life: the Roses are fun characters, and Dolan's soundtrack choices are super. He is on top form when dealing with people like these, the substance of his filmmaking seems to reflect the substance of his script, and herein lies the issue. Unhappy, bored, frustrated people living unhappy, boring, frustrating lives result, in Dolan's hands, in an unhappy, boring, frustrating film.