[Last Film I Saw] Laurence Anyways (2012)

Laurence Anyways poster

Title: Laurence Anyways
Year: 2012
Country: Canada, France
Language: French, English
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Xavier Dolan
Writers: Xavier Dolan
Music: Noia
Cinematography: Yves Bélanger
Melvil Poupaud
Suzanne Clément
Nathalie Baye
Monia Chokri
Magalie Lépine Blondeau
Susan Almgren
Sophie Faucher
Catherine Bégin
Emmanuel Schwartz
Perrette Souplex
Patricia Tulasne
Jacques Lavallée
Mylène Jampanoï
Jacob Tierney
Yves Jacques
David Savard
Anne-Élisabeth Bossé
Anne Dorval
Violette Chauveau
Monique Spaziani
Rating: 8.1/10

Laurence's confession

Laurence’s confession

It is Canadian prodigy Xavier Dolan’s third feature, after I KILLED MY MOTHER (2009) and HEARTBEATS (2010), the first one he doesn’t hog a leading role for himself. LAURENCE ANYWAYS chronicles a 10 year up-and-down relationship between Laurence Alia (Poupaud), a man with GID (Gender Identity Disorder) and determines to dress up like a woman, and his girlfriend Fred Belair (Clément) from 1989 to the looming millennium.

Melvil Poupaud with his horrendous wig

Melvil Poupaud with his horrendous wig

Scale wise it is Dolan’s boldest and most ambitious one (save his two subsequent films TOM AT THE FARM 2013 and MOMMY 2014, which I haven’t seen yet), extending around 168 minutes, Dolan strenuously spells out a panorama of struggles of Laurence and Fred, for the former, it is a life-or-death judgement call, without opening up to embrace his true id, life is pointless and meaningless to him; more thoughtfully and unconventionally, the film generously grants maximum space for the latter, to zoom in on Fred’s striving for breath and co-existence when her world is equally capsized by the blunt decision made by the man she loves.

Suzanne Clément, a distraught woman needs a restart

Suzanne Clément, a distraught woman needs a restart

As early as the opening introduction of Laurence through onlookers (deceitfully) spontaneous responses till the very end, Laurence and Fred separately exit the barroom with posh slo-motion against the brisk gust, stylistically Dolan comes much more at ease with his ostentatious aesthetic codes, Day-Glo disco, subdued lighting, kitschy ornamentation, pop art, avant-garde tableaux vivant, chic party, campy or crammed locale confinement, highlighted by Les Five Roses, and all aided by a killing mixtape (from Fever Ray, The Cure, Visage to Moderat) to leaven the zeitgeist and propel the storytelling.

Monia Chokri, as Clément's grouching sister

Monia Chokri, as Clément’s grouching sister

It is a pure melodrama, spearheaded by two impressive leading performances by Poupaud and Clément, especially the latter, her explosion which bookends the midway of this drawn-out feature is intensely electrifying and utterly breathtaking. She also impeccably handles the unvoiced implosion of her character, shepherded by hairstylists, costume designers and Dolan’s unerring determination to lay bare all the subtlety with abstract symbolism and his own perceptive sensations.

vivid palette with ingenious imagination

vivid palette with ingenious imagination

Most of the time, Poupaud conceals his handsome contour under a ridiculous wig, heavy make-up doesn’t help either, but nothing can hide Laurence’s intrepidity, sensitivity and charm through his less flamboyant but more realistic rendition. Nathalie Baye, plays Laurence’s negligent mother, pungently bespeaks both parenting and gender-identity are not innately fitting to anyone.

Nathalie Baye as Poupaud's mother

Nathalie Baye as Poupaud’s mother

LAURENCE ANYWAYS is a solid corroboration of Dolan’s prowess to explore and conquer a wider scope out of his comfort zone, visually distinct and artistically eclectic, although in any event he needs to be polished up a little bit and get himself out of the self-indulgent pitfall, let me just suppress a dash of jealousy and get ready to rejoice in the wunderkind’s another output, hopefully is the much-anticipated TOM AT THE FARM.

Le Five Roses tableau

Le Five Roses tableau





One thought on “[Last Film I Saw] Laurence Anyways (2012)

  1. Pingback: [Last Film I Watch] The New Girlfriend (2014) [7/10] | Cinema Omnivore

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