'When I close my eyes, I see piles of clothing. When I open them, I see only darkness." So says Yves Saint Laurent (in a stunning performance by Gaspard Ulliel) in the movie "Saint Laurent," which opens here more than a year after it took Cannes by storm. It has since bagged multiple awards on the film festival circuit, including the prestigious Cesar Award for Best Costume Design.
Like its titular designer, "Saint Laurent" is a mass of contradictions and tremulous with sensitivity; at the same time, it runs on a dogged stamina and revels in Saint Laurent's powerhouse work ethic. It's an intriguing (if at times over-the-top) portrait of a designer obsessed with his craft. Start to finish, the movie enthralls and intoxicates.
Andy Warhol once paid homage to Saint Laurent by describing him as one half of the "two most important artists of the 20th century" (Warhol was the other half), and in the movie the lean, handsome and demonically charismatic designer treats this statement as nothing more than a stray bit of fluff that landed on his suit lapel. Yet Saint Laurent also suffers from self-doubt and designer's block, brought on by 20th-century-style debauchery namely, drugs, booze, sex and partying.
The story concentrates on the years between 1967 and 1976, Yves Saint Laurent's most professionally productive and personally excessive years. During this time he drank and partied with his model muses Betty Catroux (Aymeline Valade) and Loulou de la Falaise (Lea Seydoux), and fell in love with and pursued Jacques de Bascher (Louis Garrel), with whom he had an all-consuming love affair. ...