Disclaimer: Expectations were high going into this film for two reasons: (1) it triumphed over the superbly brilliant and universally acclaimed Blue Is The Warmest Colour as France's entry for The 87th Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film; (2) this is the second of two Yves Saint Laurent biopics of the year - the first being: Yves Saint Laurent.
Saint Laurent was a stylish movie with a disjointed and non-cohesive narrative, saved by the charismatic Gaspard Ulliel as the eponymous fashion savant and Yves Saint Laurent's gorgeous designs.
At about 30 minutes too long, director Bertrand Bonello's 150 minutes biopic gave the audience no insight into mind and inner workings of fashion's enfant terrible. It focused on a brief chapter of his life but yet in choosing just that short time-frame, Bonello was not able to find any focus for his story: his fashion? his ideas? his relationships? his scandals? It was a hotchpotch of ideas and imageries. With the camera fleeting from one scene to another, never really lingering long enough for the scene to develop beyond the initial planned shock and awe.
At least Yves Saint Laurent was unabashedly proud of its focus towards the more salacious details of Saint Laurent's life. Also, granted, neither the sex nor nudity was as explicit as in Yves Saint Laurent, and we did get some gratuitous, and entirely superfluous and irrelevant, male frontal nudities of the stars - Ulliel and Jeremie Renier - but that could be a byproduct of Singapore's censors. That may account for the feeling of narrative disjointedness - which is very unfair to Bonello.
The true saving grace of the movie was Ulliel. He was a very different Saint Laurent from Pierre Niney's version, having had the luxury of bypassing Saint Laurent's more difficult growing years. However, physically, Niney was more alike Saint Laurent; Ulliel's prettiness and physique occasionally was a bit too distracting. But having said that, Ulliel's charisma helped to translate this enigmatic character more easily for the audience.
However, as aforementioned, Ulliel was let down by the script of Bonello and co-writer Thomas Bidegain. With no anchor for him to center his character on, Ulliel did his best to try relay the emotions of such a difficult man.
Bonello was also responsible for the music of the show and that yielded similarly mixed results. The disco-scenes had great authentic soundtracks, but the rest of the show was aural white noise.
The best scene of the whole movie - like what Saint Laurent himself said about his collections - was the 1976 show. Perhaps it was the clothes.