Considering the fact that I dabble – to put it lightly – in fandom realm, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I had certain interest towards movies with LGBTQ theme. Which is why Yves Saint Laurent piqued my curiosity when I read that it’s a movie about him and his lover, Pierre Berge. More than anything, I watch this movie to satisfy my inner fangirl’s needs for some good gay romance – because it has been sometime since I watched Kill Your Darlings – and that is exactly what I got.
Yves Saint Laurent (Pierre Niney) is a fashion genius, and he had been appointed as the new designer for Dior shortly after Christian Dior”s death. His work with Dior may have set his first stepping stone, but it’s not until he met Pierre Berge (Guillaume Gallienne) in 1958 does he take off in both life and work.
Even as someone who knows next to nothing about fashion, especially the haute couture one, I still recognize Yves Saint Laurent. It’s an established name brand, which would serve to attract people’s attention And luckily, Yves Saint Laurent also have a very interesting life filled with turbulence, drama, sex, and other commodities that is worthy of being turned into a movie. In a way though, this movie is more of a romantic love story rather than a biopic. But I suppose it is inevitable considering how intricately interwoven Yves’s life with Pierre’s is. Despite all the scandalous party and sexual adventures, Yves’s life actually revolved around Pierre, the one man that he would never get as far as he does without. This is a movie that recounts the up and down of Yves Saint Laurent’s life ever since he got involved in the fashion industry as the prodigious successor of Dior and how, every single time, Pierre is there to pick him up and put him back on the right track.
It is a love story, yes, but it is not your regular dose of romance. This is the love story of a manic depressive genius with a bundle of negative energy that could explode everything. When he focused all of those energy on designing, he turn into an innovative genius whose controversial works change the course of women’s fashion. But when he’s not crafting, he lost his grip and is reduced into a pleasure seeker that would do anything to ease his boredom or get a kick. Drugs, parties, drinks, sex, Yves try everything. Still he is prone to sudden emotional outburst and lashing his angers out. And maybe that is why he needs Pierre, he needs someone to keep him grounded and help him get through his days.
And on the other side of the love story, there is Pierre Berge. This movie is about him as much as it is about Yves. Unlike Yves’s ever changing sentiments, Pierre’s affection is always directed towards Yves, and him only. He love Yves so completely and fiercely that Yves become the center of his world. And Pierre would do anything to keep it that way, even if at times he may have to stoop as low as to restrict Yves’s movement and become an overly possessive spouse. But it is also this dedication that keeps Pierre on Yves’s side, that keep him going even as he watch Yves drift away from the sideline, even if at times it seems like Yves is only using Pierre and Pierre’s unrelenting affection wasn’t reciprocated.
Aside from the love story though, I don’t think there is anything special that this movie offered. It is quite interesting, yeah, and the pretty original dresses were a nice plus point. But this movie rely too much on it’s unconventional love story, and thankfully both Niney and Gallienne manage to deliver. They blend with their role so completely that most of the time I feel like I am watching the real documentary of Yves and Pierre. Niney’s performance was especially rich as Yves, while Gallienne is more subdued but doesn’t lack the flaming determination that Pierre has. Unfortunately, that’s that. The other characters felt much too two dimensional, like they’re just there to pass by without leaving any mark, even for supposedly important characters like Yves’s family. And their respective actresses or actors doesn’t fare that much better, leaving little to no impressions. Not to mention the dramatization was portrayed in a way that could tire you out after times, given that Yves’s life is like a never ending cycle of push and pull that could easily become predictable and stale.
Maybe, though, that is the right way to depict Yves Saint Laurent’s life. A life with Pierre Berge as the only important figure, where others doesn’t matter as much and were just there to interest Yves’s for the time being. Also, props for the ending scene. That was possibly the most memorable scene from the movie – angsty and yet beautiful, just the way I like it.
Director: Jalil Lespert. Writers: Jacques Fieschi, Jalil Lespert, Jeremie Guez, Marie-Pierre Huster. Released on: 8 January 2014 (France). Casts: Pierre Niney, Guillaume Gallienne, Charlotte Le Bon, Laura Smet, Marie De Villepin.