Wednesday, 28 May 2014


As a welcome, though unflattering, reminder of the great art that inspired this otherwise entirely uninspired biopic, some of the designs of the late M. Saint Laurent are paraded down the runway and past the camera lens. It's a bona fide delight for fans of fashion to witness these works presented as they once were, though we might have been better served by a film consisting solely of YSL runway recreations, and as might the great designer too. Representing pivotal junctures in his life and career, Jalil Lespert's Yves Saint Laurent is curiously light on staging these shows (was he denied access to larger portions of the house archives?), and their sporadic interjections come off as frustrating. They're enveloped from both sides by conventional dramatic sequences characterised by a pretty polish to the aesthetic design, and utter inertia virtually everywhere else. The insultingly cynical screenplay relies on our empathy as much as our stupidity, in devising scenes of monumental ludicrousness, whether for their sense of canned, rehearsed action, for the insincerity of their emotional content, or for the bluntness of the dialogue. Not a word is wasted in Lespert's phony evocation of the era, in incessant talk of politics and catharsis, or in the obligatory cameos from familiar names. This is one of those films where the soundtrack too neatly matches the period, and where one Karl Lagerfeld cannot just appear, he must be announced. Coffee tables the world over quiver with recognition, and everybody thinks how clever they are! As Yves, Pierre Niney is dumped into the most dreary of scenarios time after time, like the cute bit where he tries drugs! Then the bit where he has a breakdown! Then the bit where he's still in a third-rate biopic! Niney's studied performance is very convincing, but the film itself is not. It's as stiff as double-faced brocade and as old as M. Dior's A-line. Jalil Lespert's film is so not in.