By Liz Lopez
Rating: B –
Many of us likely recognize the brand YSL, Yves Saint Laurent, seen on clothing labels and other fashion accessories and known internationally. In general, individuals do not have to be a fashion designer or own a closet full of clothes to know what it stands for, but those letters always stood out for me as I was growing up. I perceived those letters as a symbol of elegance, affluence, one of a kind and out of my price range; perhaps something I would try to acquire after finishing college and began working. The items were not at the top of my priorities, so I did not spend time researching details about the creative individual’s life story. YSL was fame and wealth, period. I was not familiar with what fueled his creativity, fears, challenges or what brought him down. In the biopic Saint Laurent, directed by Bertrand Bonello, Gaspard Ulliel is a handsome actor who portrays the uber talented and wealthy legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. The film is long and detailed, especially this gentleman’s excesses, so I learned so much more than expected. I have one recommendation for viewers who select this film and that is to be prepared for a good, long stay in the theater. This film is 150 minutes long. This is not all about the pretty side of the fashion world a few decades ago.
Ulliel’s performance is eye – opening, for more reasons than one, as the viewer learns about Saint Laurent’s upbringing in Algeria, his romances and drama, as well as other addictions he lived with since his mid – twenties into his death this decade. There are many reasons for the film’s R rating, as the film is pretty explicit about his love life, the use of alcohol and other substances that took him on highs and lows.
The cinematography is beautiful in many scenes, especially with the fabrics and the shows with all the models on the runway. Some of my favorite scenes are from the 60s and 70s and will probably for boomers who remember the era and the styles of the day.
Ulliel is an actor I will definitely want to follow more and view in other films. Bonello’s film was released in France last fall and arrives in Austin theaters on May 22nd at the Regal Arbor Theater.