2014 Running time: 101 Certificate: 15 Rating: 3

Synopsis

The life of iconic French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent is celebrated in this glossy biopic from actor-turned-director Jalil Lespert. Comedie Francaise actor Pierre Niney slips into the clothes of the haute couture legend, a genius plagued by manic depression, drug dependence and a punishing over-reliance on his lover and business partner Pierre Berge (Guillaume Gallienne). It's a fascinating insight into man whose three initials can spell life or death in the fickle world of fashion.

Director

  • Jalil Lespert

Cast

  • Pierre Niney

  • Guillaume Gallienne

  • Charlotte Le Bon

  • Laura Smet

  • Nikolai Kinski

Review

The trouble with this dutiful biopic of French couture guru Yves Saint Laurent is that - like fashion itself - it's more eye-catching style over soul-nourishing content.

We join the young Saint Laurent (Niney) at his home in Algeria in the 1950s just before he is proclaimed - at 21 - the youngest head designer in the history of the top shelf House of Dior.

However, even then, it's obvious that the speccy couture colossus-in-waiting is a total pain - both arrogant and needy - and, while able to behave as despicably as anyone else in the bitchy world of fashion - he comes an emotional cropper when his country has the gall to ask him to fight for it.

Yet he shows his business mettle when, sacked from Dior, his goes to court and wins the funds to set up an independent fashion empire with the emotional and cash-savvy help of his lover Pierre Berge (Gallienne).

The mid-Sixties timing may be just right for a brave, new venture but it's not a good time to be a self-destructive artiste with the temptations offered by shed-loads of coke in Marrakech which the now reclusive Yves is only to happy to snort back.

This addictive arc means he cannot maintain a relationship and, inevitably, his romance with Berge becomes so totally last year...and this is really where the more compelling life story ends. Er, and that's it.

For a film about a fashion designer there isn't much fashion designing (just one brief scene where he shows his mentor Christian Dior how to successfully remodel a little black dress).

There is very little real substance here and clothes horses will be frustrated at the lack of insight into an industry that makes no sense to anyone outside it.

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