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TIFF Review: Yves Saint Laurent Doc L'amour Fou

Photo of Meredith Brody By Meredith Brody | Thompson on Hollywood September 14, 2010 at 11:01AM

Meredith Brody reviews the latest doc about Yves Saint Laurent, L'amour Fou:
Thompson on Hollywood

Meredith Brody reviews the latest doc about Yves Saint Laurent, L'amour Fou:

I went to see L’amour fou, a documentary about Yves Saint Laurent, because, well, I see all documentaries about Yves Saint Laurent – both Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times, from 2002, and Yves Saint Laurent: 5 Avenue Marceau (also 2002) seemed to be running in perpetuity on cable, and I now see they’re packaged together on DVD. This documentary could be subtitled Pierre Bergé Gets the Last Word, as Saint Laurent’s surviving business and romantic partner is the main talking head throughout (muses Betty Catroux and Loulou Falaise do show up briefly, Catroux amusingly, Falaise heartbreakingly. I note that both are in Toronto to appear on the red carpet, but are not available for interviews).

The documentary is framed by the massive 2009 Christie’s auction of much of the art and artifacts Saint Laurent and Bergé acquired together – packing the stuff up, and knocking it down at the end. (The sale totaled 373,935,500 euros, a fact not mentioned in the movie. I know because I spent many hours last year voyeuristically clicking on the Christie’s web site to see everything that sold. I was hoping that, for example, when a single Eileen Gray armchair with dragon arms from around 1919 went for 21,905,000 euros, Bergé would not be able to resist saying “We paid x thousand francs for it.” But, alas, he was quite able to resist.)

Saint Laurent was a great artist, and a famously tormented one – a depressive who self-medicated with alcohol and drugs, who Bergé said was only happy briefly, twice a year, when he received tumultuous applause at the end of his collections. The glimpses of their three fabulous homes – the Parisian apartment on the Rue Babylone, the fantastic Marrakesh compound, and the country house in Normandy, with its outbuildings including a Russian-style dacha – were tantalizing, as were the clips of Saint Laurent shows, including a massive retrospective held in a sport stadium. I could watch a six-hour Saint Laurent documentary (and if you add them all up, I have).

I also enjoyed the gelato I savored during it, the most expensive ice cream I have ever purchased in a movie theater -- $7 for a not-overly-large cup of straciatella, aka chocolate chip, and mint. The stand owner assured me it would be the best gelato I’ve ever had, but hey! I’ve been to Italy. (And when I’m there, my sister and I have coined an expression: “A day without gelato is like a day without sunshine.”) The Scotiabank food court gelato was good. But it wasn’t that good.

This article is related to: Festivals, Genres, Reviews, Toronto, Documentaries

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.