This review is also up at Channel 24
What it's about
A look at the peak ten years in the the hedonistic, bohemian life of acclaimed French designer, Yves Saint Laurent.
What we thought
You wait all your life for one biopic about Yves Saint Laurent to come along, only for two to come along at once. I'm kidding, of course. Only one of these biopics actually reached these shores – the equally creatively titled, Yves Saint Laurent is MIA – and, far more pertinently, if Saint Laurent is any indication of its real-life subject then I really can't imagine anyone waiting a day, let alone a lifetime, to pay good money to spend even five minutes of their time with this insufferable bore.
Lucky me though, I did get to spend, or should I say “do”, my time with this insufferable bore! But not for five minutes. Oh, no, not for five minutes. I had the pleasure of losing a full two and a half hours of my life to this horrible hell of a film – two and a half hours of my life that will only mean anything if you, dear readers, heed my warnings and avoid Saint Laurent like the black death. I usually encourage people to go and make up their own minds about films - and I do certainly hate to complain when I'm being paid to write about a film that I've watched for free - but this is one time where I can honestly, truly, genuinely say: I suffered so you don't have to.
I would say that Saint Laurent is less fun than watching paint dry, but, to be honest, I don't actually see much difference between these two activities. No, wait, that's not entirely true. The experience of watching Saint Laurent is pretty much the equivalent of watching paint dry, while someone just out of reach slowly drags their nails across a freshly sand-papered blackboard for hundreds upon hundreds of hours. What do you know, it really is less fun than watching paint dry, after all.
To say that Saint Laurent is a bad film would be to give it far too much credit. It's a nothing of a film about boring vacuous people doing boring vacuous things over a ten year period that actually feels like its unfurling in real time. This does, of course, make it relatively difficult to review. “Bad” I can do, but the cinematic equivalent of staring into the abyss? I barely even know where to start.
I would say that the plot is terrible, but it doesn't have a plot. I would say that the characters are less layered than the raw materials with which Saint Laurent created his fashions but even that would be to overstate the characterization in the film. I would even say that the dialogue is shockingly flat but in face of the twenty-minute scene of a bunch of non-entities in suits discussing the intricacies of the fashion business, “flat” doesn't quite begin to cover it. Oh and there are, technically speaking, actors all over the film but since they have less than nothing to do, they're not really worth mentioning. I can't even say that the period-specific soundtrack saves it because, a cool Velvet Underground number aside, it doesn't even do that.
Or, to put it simply, Saint Laurent is a biopic about an artist that tells us absolutely nothing about either the artist or his art. I don't generally give the slightest damn about fashion (as anyone who's seen the way I dress can attest to) but, amazingly, I left Saint Laurent even more nonplussed about the whole industry/ artform. As for the man himself, I knew absolutely nothing about him going in and I knew even less coming out – which is, I suppose, something of an achievement at least.
Now, this being an art film in French, it has received its inevitable glowing reviews but lets not kid, this is the sort of art film that gives art movies a bad name. It's quite prettily shot, I admit, but it is otherwise a pointless, indulgent, pretentious, uninteresting and utterly soulless piece of crap that has the audacity to demand two and a half hours of its audience's time. Just shameful.