Tuesday, 12 May 2015


Neither the life of a genius nor the work of a genius. Bertrand Bonello's Saint Laurent is a portrait of the world through the eyes of a genius, or perhaps through the clothes of one. Bonello's arresting style of directing allows him to direct not only his performers but his audience also: we notice what he wants us to notice, feel what he intends us to feel. The feeling is one, eventually, of dislocation, that most cliched of notions - the artist's existential ennui - rendered most palpably via an edit that doesn't even seem to satisfy itself. The film doesn't envelop you, and it's not supposed to, though when it does engage, it's as vibrant and as beautiful as anything in either Bonello's ouevre or Saint Laurent's. The famed lightness in the great designer's creations affords the same quality to this director's own creation, which enables some of his more indulgent whims to go down more easily, charming rather than overwhelming the viewer. The ephemerality to the whole enterprise that has been so carefully constructed makes Saint Laurent a tough case to call if you're looking for a masterpiece, though it could probably qualify as a classic, since it is so skilled a work of film, and so fitting a tribute to fashion. And my, what fashion! It is presented less as the product of a great mind (though Bonello and Gaspard Ulliel deftly depict the struggles the designer frequently suffered through), more a reflection of and influence for the world entire. The clothing is seen with the benefit of hindsight, and in the context of history, and thus the true historic value of YSL's work is teased out. An art film in the truest sense of the term, and the most thorough.