Bertrand Bonello‘s Saint Laurent (Sony Pictures Classics), which screened this morning for NYFF press, is said to be the darker, sexier and druggier of the two YSL biopics. The other is Jalil Lespert‘s Yves St. Laurent, which the Weinstein Co. allegedly released last June. I haven’t seen the latter but Bonello’s film is initially appealing but then it becomes more and more boring, particularly during the second hour. Most of it is about YSL‘s debauched years, which apparently happened between the mid ’60s and mid ’70s. The 150-minute length is way too long. There are few things on the planet earth more boring that (a) watching club vampires lie around and giggle and snort cocaine and (b) watching gay guys eyeball each other at said clubs before hooking up. Saint Laurent drove me mad with such scenes. It’s generally understood that Bonello has delivered a more candid account of YSL’s life than what Lespert’s film offered, but I felt far more interested and emotionally fulfilled by L’Amour Fou, the 2010 YSL documentary.
Gaspard Ulliel plays the legendary designer with a certain flair and cat-like charm, and I was more or less down with Jeremie Renier‘s performance as YSL’s longtime partner Pierre Berge, Louis Garrel‘s as YSL’s mid ’70s lover Jacques de Bascher and Lea Seydoux as Loulou de la Falaise. But I began checking my watch after the first hour, and the second hour seemed agonizing. I came to hate Garrel for those flirtatious looks he gives Ulliel over and over and over. Do you guys do anything but lie around and fuck and chain-smoke cigarettes? Because you’re putting me into a coma.
Saint Laurent has two memorable scenes. The first is when model Aymeline Valade, playing YSL model and confidante Betty Vatroux, steps onto a dance floor and starts gyrating and whirling around on her own…a truly exciting “wow” moment. The second is when Moujik, YSL’s French bulldog, eats several pills lying on the floor and dies of an overdose. I’m sorry but that’s it — just those two scenes. The rest of it you can have.
The 83 year-old Berge supported both L’Amour Fou and Yves Saint Laurent but not Saint Laurent, apparently because he didn’t care for the scenes of sexuality and drug use. Saint Laurent screened in competition at Cannes last May.