Let's just say the 'L' is not for likeable...
Let me start by saying this was not an easy film to watch in any sense of the word!
On itunes the film, which is in french is sold without subtitles. Of course itunes don't tell you that until you have downloaded it and you find yourself trying to watch it and follow it in French. I tried. I failed!
In the end I had to ask The Gavster to try and find subtitles. Which of course he did but it was a chinese translation of a french film into English. Hmmm!
This was an evocative film, filled of course with the beautiful clothes but concentrating on the story of the timid boy behind the clothes and the extrordinary talent that would transform fahsion and womenswear as we understand it today.
But if I had to sum up the film in a single word it would be sad. Sad to see such talent and promise blighted by drink, drugs and personal demons...
Born in colonial Algeria in 1936, Saint Laurent became an extraordinary prodigy. Obsessed with fashion, as a painfully shy teenager he moved to Paris to work for Dior. Three years later, Christian Dior died and Saint Laurent took over as artistic director at just 21!
We are so used to seeing him as a frail older man that you forget what strikingly handsome creature he was.
Small wonder that Pierre Berge fell in love with him at first sight
In the film Pierre Niney takes the title role. His likeness is extraordinary, he truly inhabited the character.
"I did five months of preparation on his life and character," Niney says."I met many of the people Yves knew. The centre of the film is his relationship with Pierre Berge, who was Yves' partner in business and in his private life.
"I was lucky to sit down with Berge - who's now 83 - and discuss their life together. It was a privilege and a big help because mainly the film is their love story."
The director of the film, simply titled Yves Saint Laurent, is Jalil Lespert, he, too, was fascinated by the men's long friendship.
"Saint Laurent always had a revolutionary vision for women's fashion - but fate gave him his moment very early and without Berge perhaps he would never have achieved so much. "To give a purpose to life there has to be someone you love and who loves you back - otherwise what in life makes sense? Yves needed Berge emotionally, although our screenplay is honest about the problems they had later on," he explains.
Pierre Berge let the filmmakers have access to original Yves Saint Laurent Designs
Like most lifelong marriages, YSL’s story is Pierre Berg’s story, and it’s honestly, if not heartbreakingly told.
Watching this you remember what a revolutionary effect this young man had on the world of fashion in so many ways...
“I’ve gone through much anguish, many hells. I’ve known fear and a tremendous solitude. The deceitful friends that tranquilizers and narcotics turn out to be. The prison that depression can be and that of mental-health clinics. One day I came out of it all, dazzled but sober. Marcel Proust taught me that ‘the magnificent and pitiable family of neurotic people is the salt of the earth." (Yves Saint Laurent).
Yves Saint Laurent reads the words above with great dignity at his farewell address to announce his retirement from fashion design in 2002. His words trace the difficult moments in his life where the enormity of his unimaginable success ultimately led to his emotional and physical ruin. Aged and beaten by the decades of business triumphs and failures, his highly complex and crippling manic-depressive nature, infidelities and a dependence on drugs and alcohol - Saint Laurent's words were beautiful, poignant and bitingly real. At his side every step of the way was his longtime lover and business partner, Pierre Bergé
Watching the film I was deeply touched by the depth of support Berge had for him which endured throughout their life together.
It would be no understatement to say with Pierre Berge there would have been no YSL...