Saint Laurent (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
September 13, 2015 by Dennis Amith
“Saint Laurent” is a fascinating biographic film that comes short in its introduction to those close to Yves Saint Laurent, but when covering his life as a fashion icon and showcasing his creative genius but also his own personal faults, director Bertrand Bonello does a wonderful shop in showing audiences that even the man behind the iconic fashion brand.
TITLE: Saint Laurent
FILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 150 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 Aspect Ratio), French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: R (for graphic nudity/strong sexual situations, substance abuse throughout and some language)
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Directed by Bertrand Bonello
Screenplay by Thomas Bidegain, Bertrand Bonello
Produced by Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer, Christophe Lambert
Co-Producer: Remi Burah, Genevieve Lemal, Olivier Pere
Music by Bertrand Bonello
Cinematography by Josee Deshaies
Edited by Fabrice Rouaud
Casting by Richard Rousseau
Production Design by Katia Wyszkop
Costume Design by Anais Romand
Gaspard Ulliel as Yves Saint Laurent
Jeremie Renier as Pierre Berge
Louis Garrel as Jacques de Bascher
Lea Seydoux as Loulou de la Falaise
Amira Casar as Anne-Marie Munoz
Aymeline Valade as Betty Catroux
Helmut Berger as Yves Saint Laurent en 1989
Michae Lescot as Monsieur Jean-Pierre
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi as Mme Duzer
Dive into the color and lush textures of the incredible life of fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent. Explore the mind of a creative genius, the intricacies that turned a haute-couture label into a worldwide phenomenon, and the glamour and decadence that followed Saint Laurents footsteps of fame and fortune.
Yves Saint Laurent, the legendary French fashion designer who built a remarkable brand around his name, but best known for igniting the synergy of couture in the sixties and was no doubt a creative man that was ahead of his time.
Known for his ready-to-wear products and creating tuxedo jackets for women and using multicultural models early in his career, while YSL was a prominent luxury fashion house, Yves Saint Laurent and his brand died in 2008.
In 2015, his brand was revived by Hedi Slimane and boutiques with Saint Laurent merchandise continues the Yves Saint Laurent name.
But as for Yves Saint Laurent, many are curious about the man behind the fashion, aside from the more available news of his addiction to alcohol and drugs during the ’60s and ’70s and his love for his French Bulldog, Moujik, outside of his circle, not many people know about the life of Yves Saint Laurent.
And thus, two films were created in 2014. “Yves Saint Laurent”, the 2014 French biographical drama directed by Jalil Lespert (who was granted access by Pierre Berge to the YSL archives) and the more well-received and critically-praised French biography drama film co-written and directed by Bertrand Bonello (“The Pornographer”, “House of Tolerance”, “Tiresia”).
The latter will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics in September.
The film stars Gaspard Ulliel (“Hannibal Rising”, “Paris, je t’aime”, “A Very Long Engagement”) who plays the younger Yves Saint Laurent, Jeremie Renier (“In Bruges”, “L’enfant”, “The Kid with a Bike”, “La Promesse”), Louis Garrel (“The Dreamers”, “The Beautiful Person”, “Regular Lovers”, “Love Songs”), Lea Seydoux (“Blue is the Warmest Color”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “Inglorious Basterds”, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”), Amira Casar (“Sulvia”, “Anatomy of Hell”, “Why Not Me?”), Aymeline Valade and Helmut Berger (“The Godfather Part III”, “Ludwig”, “Conversation Piece”) as the older Yves Saint Laurent.
The film focuses on the life of Yves Saint Laurent from 1968-1978 and the final years of his life.
“Saint Laurent” begins with Yves Saint Laurent discussing how he was committed during his service for the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence and how he suffered disorders because of that experience.
A quick shot then shows Yves Saint Laurent lying on the ground bleeding.
The film then switches to different time periods.
In 1968, seamstress are working on designs for Saint Laurent. We are introduced to a man who likes to play classical music while working on his designs.
We are introduced to the closest people to him, the head of YSL studio, Anne-Marie Munoz (portrayed by Amira Casar) and his partner and co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent Couture House, Pierre Berge (portrayed by Jeremie Renier).
The film then goes to the gay bar, where he would meet Chanel model Betty Saint (portrayed by Aymeline Valade), a woman who would one day be one of Saint Laurent’s closest friends and a woman in which Yves saw himself as and often called her his twin or reincarnation. But in the scene, Saint Laurent tries to get Betty to represent YSL, but she resists because she is representing Chanel.
But not long after, we see Betty modeling Saint Laurent’s suit and then we see his creation of tuxedoes for women.
The film then switches to 1971 and introduces us to Saint Laurent’s haute couture and introduces us to another woman close to Saint Laurent, his good friend Loulou de La Falaise (portrayed by Lea Seydoux), who would later become the fashion muse and designer of fashion, accessories and jewelry for Yves Saint Laurent.
As Saint Laurent and his friends have alcohol and drug parties, we are introduced to Saint Laurent’s good friend, actress Talitha Getty (portrayed by Jasmine Trinca), who we often seen shooting up on heroin.
The film would then showcase the press and those at a YSL fashion event in surprise after seeing the models in suits and ready-to-wear clothing (which were haute coteur, but yet showing how people didn’t understand it at the time). The tepid response would send Saint Laurent in a fit.
By 1972, American investors are upset in seeing the lowest in YSL revenue and Pierre Berge fighting for the brand and reminding investors that they must be patient with Yves Saint Laurent as a creative visionary and to accept the risk in ready-to-wear clothing because haute couture will become internationally. But the investors also bring up worries about Yves Saint Laurent’s health.
The film then shows us the stress which Saint Laurent endures before and after each collection. And as he tries to seek out inspiration, he goes to his local gay disco bar and encounters Karl Lagerfeld’s protege and lover, Jacques de Bascher (portrayed by Louis Garrel). Because Saint Laurent started to be unhappy with his relationship with Pierre Berge, he has an affair with de Bascher, which would eventually lead to the rivalry between the Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld.
The film would continue the life of Saint Laurent during the ’70s but then would switch off to the his final years, wondering if Yves Saint Laurent is looked as a has-been and a name without relevance.
“Saint Laurent” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). The film is quite detailed during closeups but manages to capture the luxurious lifestyle of Yves Saint Laurent. I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding and for the most part, the film looks fantastic on Blu-ray.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Saint Laurent” is presented in French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film is primarily dialogue and music-driven, so it’s a center and front-channel soundtrack with occasional surround channels used for ambiance.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.
“Saint Laurent” comes with the following special features:
- Bertrand Bonello – (1:37) A short featurette with director Bertrand Bonello discussing the making of the film.
- The Characters – (2:24) A few of the cast members discuss Yves Saint Laurent.
- Theatrical Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Saint Laurent”.
For those with interest and knowledge to the life of Yves Saint Laurent, Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint Laurent” is a fascinating film that tries to incorporate a lot of details of Saint Laurent’s life, his relationships with Pierre Berge and Jacques de Basher and his friendships to important women in his life.
But for those not familiar with Yves Saint Laurent, they will view this film of a man who is depressed, who drunk a lot of alcohol and did a lot of drugs, while creating fashion that was ahead of its time and people didn’t really understand.
Unfortunately, there are no introductions to why these people are important in the life of Yves Saint Laurent, you have to read, watch or do research on his personal life to know who these people are.
We see Anne-Marie Munoz and Loulou de la Falaise, two important people in the Yves Saint Laurent circle shown throughout the film. We know they are important, we know they are close to Saint Laurent, but without knowledge of these two individuals, their presence as characters are lost to the viewers.
The same can be said of Chanel model Betty Catroux (or known as Betty Saint). She is often seen hanging out and partying with Saint Laurent but viewers are probably are also lost of who this character is and why Yves Saint Laurent keeps seeing himself when the camera is directed at her.
The same can be said about Talitha Getty. All viewers not familiar with her, will see and remember her scenes as a woman who keeps shooting up with heroin. Not knowing her as a pivotal figure in “Bohemian” culture and fashion and married to oil heir and philanthropist John Paul Getty Jr.
But the film does go into the affair of Saint Laurent and Lagerfeld protege, Jacques de Basher. While not showing how it led to a rival between both camps, the film does show Pierre Berge’s disdain towards the affair and toward de Basher.
The film does go into Saint Laurent’s love for his French Bulldog, Moujik and how after each dog would die, he would find one that would look like him, name the dog Moujik and continue to raise it like a son.
But despite the film’s shortcoming of its side characters and possible confusion of the jump in timelines, while others may not be as kind to the film because of this, others will probably find the film as entertaining to its eroticism and it’s portrayal of Yves Saint Laurent during the peak of YSL haute couture.
The costume design for the film is impeccable and stylish, set design as decadent and the performance by Gaspard Ulliel to be wonderful. While I’m not an erudite of Yves Saint Laurent fashion oeuvre, I was able to do my research of various characters prior to watching the film.
The film is not critical of Yves Saint Laurent as the alcohol and drugs were the life of a fashion jetsetter, especially during the time of the ’60s and ’70s. The criticism were primarily by the press which is actually shown in the film as rumors of his bad health or his demise was ongoing.
“Saint Laurent” also goes to show how persistence, a great team and of course, Saint Laurent’s vision of ready-to-wear attire would become popular and there is no doubt that many other companies were inspired by his designs and that inspiration and fashion can be seen today’s modern fashion. He was a man ahead of his time, a creative genius.
As for the Blu-ray release, Picture quality is is wonderful as closeups show wonderful detail. I saw no sign of artifacts, banding or any problematic issues. Lossless audio is primarily dialogue and music-driven, but both are crystal clear. There are short features included as well.
Overall, “Saint Laurent” is a fascinating biographic film that comes short in its introduction to those close to Yves Saint Laurent, but when covering his life as a fashion icon and showcasing his creative genius but also his own personal faults, director Bertrand Bonello does a wonderful shop in showing audiences that even the man behind the iconic fashion brand.
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