Thursday, June 26, 2014

Movie Review: Cheap Material Makes Up 'Yves Saint Laurent'

The iconic Yves Saint Laurent (Pierre Niney) dresses a model in an early scene of the movie.

Yves Saint Laurent (2014, directed by Jalil Lespert. France, in French with English subtitles, color, 110 minutes) Madonna said in one of her earliest hits, she's gonna dress you up in her love. Tackling one of the most iconic designers in the world, you'd think director Jalil Lespert would want to dress his audiences up in his love of the designer. Nope, just the opposite. "Yves Saint Laurent" is a disastrous mess that evokes a storyline on one of the many "Housewives" reality shows.

In just his early '20s, Laurent (Pierre Niney) took over as head of the Dior fashion house, eventually being let go and starting his own fashion line with his partner Pierre Berge (Guillaume Gallienne). What unfurls is a movie that repeats the same formula for about 100 minutes: fashion meltdown, fashion show, arguing with Pierre, jump offs (casual sex partners), and drugs. In a film that has great production values, it put its best asset, fashion, on the backburner.

How can you make a film about a great designer and not even focus on his iconic fashion? We only get glimpses of it and it's only during his fashion shows. In "Coco Avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel)" we get some of the drama of Chanel's life but it encompassed her style so beautifully into the story, how she changed society and ushered in a new wave of iconography in women's fashion. This film is trying to make haute couture out of thrift store leftovers. Sorry, try again.

The film could have used some alterations, like taking it in on the soap opera melodrama, and adding more of YSL's special touch. You don't go to a bridal shop and expect there to be no dresses in it, so why would I expect to see a movie about a designer and not see his fashions highlighted in it?

Rating: D-

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