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3.5 out of 5 stars
Yves Saint Laurent [DVD]
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 September 2014
"Yves Saint Laurent" (2014 release from France; 105 min.) brings the story of one of the biggest names ever in the fashion design industry, YSL. As the movie opens, we are in 1957, where we see young Yves with his family in Oran, Algeria (not long before the revolutionary war breaks out). During the opening titles, we jump to today, where YSL's partner explains why he is selling all of the art they had collected over the last 4+ decades. We then jump back to the late 50s, and it's not long before the crazily-talented YSL is off to Paris, where he works under that other monument of the French fashion industry, Christian Dior. When Dior unexpectedly passes away, YSL becomes the head designer (he was barely 22!). Meanwhile. we also get to know the personal life of YSL. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: first, there are dueling biopics on YSL currently out there. Besides this movie, there is also the similarly titled "Saint Laurent", also from France, so be careful to be sure that you don't mistakenly confuse one with the other. Second, this movie tries to give us both a look at YSL's professional life and his personal life, but in the end really doesn't do either one justice. It all seems very hurried (the movie covers 1957 through 1976), and as a result the movie lacks depth and drama. That is really a shame as there are some good moments in it. One of those is when YSL is under observation at a military hospital, and YSL's partner tells him: "Do you want to live or do you want to die?" Another good moment comes much later when the same partner observes "You are happy only twice a year: in Spring and in Fall, when the collections come out". I wish there were more such key observations. The two lead actors, Pierre Niney as YSL and Guillaume Gallienne as his partner, give their all in performances covering 2 decades, and it's certainly not their fault that the movie, while promising at times, ultimately falls short. Last but not least, tip o' the old hat to the production design of the movie, with the immaculate reproductions of Paris in the 60s and 70s (check out the old cars!).

"Yves Saint Laurent" opened without any pre-release hype or advertising this past weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. I figure it wouldn't be playing long so I saw it a few days ago (I was right, as it's already disappearing after only 1 week). The early evening screening I saw this at was not particularly well attended, I read that the other YSL biopic I mentioned earlier is supposed to open in the US in September or October. I'll probably check that out, just to see how different it is from this one. Meanwhile, well-intended as it is but flawed, I still might suggest you check out "Yves Saint Laurent" when it is released on DVD/Blu-ray. If on the other hand you are a fashion aficionado, then this movie is a must-see!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 October 2014
This sumptuously produced French biopic follows the triumphs and tribulations of one of the 20th century's most iconic figures. It picks up the story with the arrival of young Yves as the "boy wonder" of haute couture in 1950s Paris. It then leads on into the downward spiral of dissolute behaviour and depression, fuelled by drugs and alcohol, which characterised his later years.
The film is anchored by two fine central performances. Pierre Niney really looks the part in the title role, and Guillaume Gallienne is excellent as his longtime business partner and lover. The problem is that the script allows for an ample demonstration of the subject's tendency towards self-destructive behaviour, but precious little insight into what drives him to it. Without this insight, the story becomes repetitive, and just a bit tedious.
It's a beautiful film to look at, but at heart it's cold and shallow, and at its conclusion, its subject remains as inscrutable and enigmatic to us as at its beginning.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2014
I enjoyed this film about the life of Yves Saint Laurent, and the pitfalls being a genius with a mental issue can have. Well told, great acting from the ensemble cast, and I am presuming the costumes were based on original YSL designs. If I have a draw back it was the glossing over of what was a devoted partnership with Pierre Berge who was obviously more than a business partner. A film I am happy to recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 January 2015
I must admit, I was surprised to enjoy "YSL" the film after a mass of non-favourable reviews. The film is beautifully made; it's stylish, alluring, dark and a bit disturbing. Unfortunately, the film provides no real insight into the difficult (if slightly crazy) mind of the haute couture virtuoso or the process of creating in general.

"YSL" feels more often than not like a generic film on self-destructive genius, not really diving in the essence of the man. And it ends abruptly.

An extra star goes to Pierre Niney - what a brilliant performance! Bravo!

I doubt I will be re-watching the film, but I am definitely now fascinated by Yves Saint Laurent the man. For those of you who enjoy this kind of films, I recommend Valentino: The Last Emperor [DVD].
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on 5 March 2015
It is a huge challenge to try re-create the life of the Fashion Icon Yves Saint Laurent. I think Monsieur Niney not only looks like the great designer as a young man but also have a lot of his mannerism down to a fine art. The behind scenes in the YSL atelier and all that goes on in putting on a couture show etc was all very well executed. it was kind to keep the scenario to the younger dynamic Yves - and not ‘maestro’s latter career - although a genius ‘with cloth’ and the unique artistic approach to his creations - many true Icon Cuts. As a design student we went to the Paris Couture shows in 1968 and was lucky to have entrance invitation for a large number of the shows, Dior, Givenchy, Balmain etc as in those days students were given access, although seated in the back row, but ‘being there’ was magic - including 3 of us went to the YSL Couture Show, breathless experience that have stayed all these years and one of the reason’s I wanted to recap his life.
A small note to DVD distribution executives - please brake down the language and bureaucratic frontiers - any decent French Film should be published with optional English Subtitles and language options vice-versa!! I had to buy this YSL DVD in Amazone UK to have the English subtitles (as always DVD’s are cheaper in UK stunningly up to euros 20-40 in some cases compared with France!!) Many US releases for example come with French and other language options!!
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on 11 February 2015
I'm the kind of person who never misses a fashion exhibition at the V&A, but even I found this pretty boring. There was only a superficial examination of the creative process. Most of it was given over to a predictable litany of self-indulgent, self-destructive behaviour. We are clearly supposed to empathize with the tormented genius, as so many films from Lust for Life to Piaff have invited us to do, but frankly he just comes across as spoilt. Maybe this is because there is no struggle. He comes from a privileged background and by the time we meet him at the start of the film he has already been taken on by Dior and his future is assured. Or maybe it is because its told entirely from the point of view of his long-term partner (who must surely have had approval of this film) who is painted as the long-suffering martyr who made it all happen. We never really seem to get to know them.
Its a fairly one-note affair, with no wit to lighten it. Though the scene where the two main characters get together is unintentionally funny. (It was so clichéd, I was expecting a slow-mo shot of them running towards each other across a field any moment!)
The frocks were nice, though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2015
Hugely disappointing! If you want to know about YSL or how his fashion house developed, don't bother with this film. It's main focus is his relationship with Pierre somebody who is his partner and business help/ organiser. As the film progresses he descends into more and more depravity - drugs, gay orgies, etc. We ended up switching off before the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2015
Apart from wonderful views of Paris and the house in Morroco I did not enjoy this film.'it makes out that he was an enfant terrible a very spoilt individual. After thinking this man was an artistic genius I now have negative feeling about the fashion house. Maybe it was just too honest about him. Not my sort of film.
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on 21 August 2015
This is really about St Laurent's long-time (and apparently also) long-suffering lover and business partner, on whose memoirs the film is based. St Laurent is portrayed as a spoilt, unstable and throughly unlikable man, who fails to convince as this enormous talent and committed-to-his-work creature, but rather frolics around with everyone and everything in a random whirlwind of self-destruction. Lover/partner fellow gets more air time and is generally more convincing, although the story line is so thin and fragmented, and the various others coming and going so forgettable, that it hardly matters. There is comparatively little fashion, and the production is nowhere near as stylish as it should have been for such a film (anything from Tom Ford's stunning A Single Man to the delightfully silly and thoroughly enjoyable The Man From UNCLE are infinitely more stylish and visually striking than this). Don't bother.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This movie dwells too long on the fact the Yves St Laurent was a Homosexual. Or was he? This movie seems to think that we wish to know all about his fay relationships with both men and women.
I found the film trashy as it did not inform much about the man’s talents for selecting materials and philosophy towards design. I love Yves St Laurent suits and have a couple. I wanted to know about the person who could understand that design classics in Haute Couture can be considered as art. Why people dress in such a style and how they frame their minds to do so. Instead this was nothing more than a cheap journey into lightweight soft porn. If wished to know the real secrets of the man and his dreams.
In short, this movie is Utter Tripe.
Oh! Yes, one good point. The French is reasonably spoken and clear to understand for those wishing to learn from French Movies. The actors do not gabble at speed or use litanies of slang.
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