Tuesday 17 March 2015

French Film Festival - Troisieme partie - St Laurent & The Blue Room - More from Film Alert Corrrespondents

Max Berghouse writes:
Saint Laurent (Bertrand Bonello, 2014, 150 minutes) is easily the worst film I have so far seen at the current French Film Festival. Within minutes of screen time it became evident that I could only use the suffering and boredom induced in me as some sort of Lenten sacrifice. In fact perhaps I ought not to write this review because by hopefully precise numeric calculation, I left 6 minutes prior to its ending. If the announced screen time included credits, then I missed very little. Pity.

Opulently photographed and set, it is a completely interior film: the several Atelier workshops of the "master" which seemed so small that staff working there must've been in virtual slave labour conditions, nightclubs with the protagonists draped rather than sitting over banquettes, drugged and drunk out of their brains and the opulent but tasteless apartments of Saint Laurent and his some time emotional "squeeze", Berge.

Grossly over long and dull as dishwater from beginning to end, it should surely prove that some subject matters can't be rendered into film. Making clothing is completely tedious in real life as it is on screen. Saint Laurent who I have now learned was the greatest couturier (I had better not be common sense and Anglo-Saxon by saying "dressmaker") of the 20th century seems to have been conveyed accurately from life to film: boring, self absorbed and drug addled most of his mature life.

I'm not sure if YSL were left-handed in real life, but Gaspar Ulliel does all the sketching of dresses with his left hand and towards the very end when the elderly YSL is played by Helmut Berger, to maintain the solution, Berger is shown in reverse, with his pocket handkerchief on his right breast rather than left. If one notices little faux pas like this, clearly one's mind is not occupied on the film as story.

My original choice of this film was based on the fact that it was nominated the 10 Cesar awards and not on subsequent film reviews which accorded it much the same quality as I have above. Must be a French thing!

Michael Campi writes:
Barrie's summary of the French FF doesn't mention Mathieu Amalric's THE BLUE ROOM (2014, 76 minutes). I believe Curious Films may release it later, perhaps, unlike the Madman titles for which the trailers announce that they are FFF exclusives.  At around eight/ten screenings to packed houses, anyone can do the math. Who needs separate paid campaigns?

Amalric's film is intense and exquisitely filmed and from a Simenon novel.  Wonderfully it's less than 80 minutes long.

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