giovedì 19 luglio 2012

Laurence Anyways

Here’s the thing: when I believe in the talent of an artist, I am always afraid of being disappointed by his/her new piece of art or by the fact that other people will not love him/her as much as I do. With Xavier Dolan, I realized this with a certain surprise, I am beyond this point.
When yesterday night I seated at the Cinéma des Cinéastes and I started watching his last movie, Laurence Anyways, I discovered that I wasn’t afraid at all. Why? Because this guy is so talented that I simply knew I didn’t have to worry about anything. 
All I had to do was to relax and enjoy 2hoursand40minutes of great cinema.
I knew it, I had it.
It is 1989 in Montreal, Québec, and Laurence Alia, a teacher of French Literature at the university, is celebrating his 30 birthday. His partner Fred (just the name is male) would like to go to New York for the week-end, but Laurence has something else in mind. As a matter of fact, he’s got something else in mind for years but he makes the announcement just that day: he wants to become a woman. The news, of course, has devastating consequences, not only on their relationship but on Laurence’s entire world. Having taken his decision, Laurence wants to stop pretending: dressed as a woman, he makes the same announcement to his mother and his colleagues and students. A “revolution”, as he calls it, which is going to cost him a lot: the loss of the woman he loves, the loss of his job. The movie follows Laurence and Fred lives until 2000, with their ups and downs, their reconciliations and their lacerations, and their impossible love.
Dolan’s third movie could already be considered as his adulthood’s movie.
Having written his first one at the age of 17, Dolan at 24 shows a remarkable maturity. His cinema has grown up movie after movie, becoming richer, deeper, braver and more inventive. Dolan is full of energy, ideas, boldness, even violence and, on top of all that, he is got an incredible cinematic sense. He is also smart enough to surround himself with great professionals, when he understands he can’t do it all alone. But what exactly this guy is not able to do? Laurence Anyways has been written, directed and edited by him. He even took care of the costumes, to mention one thing.
After a clearly autobiographical movie like J’ai tué ma mère and a love story quite disastrous but also very funny like Les Amours Imaginaires, Dolan pushes here the boundaries of his art: a very long movie (a real film-fleuve), a period movie (were we that badly dressed in the 90's??!) and a heavy, sensitive subject. Dolan clearly wants to impress us and he manages to. Brilliantly. The guy, this is well known, is not lacking in audacity, and on screen this gives flamboyant, amazing results. Visually, there are at least three unforgettable scenes: the New Year’s Eve party attended by Fred (Fade to grey by Visage on the background, la classe 80’s, quoi!), the moment Fred reads Laurence’s book seated on her sofa and the magnificent walk (ah, Dolan’s ralenti!) of Laurence and Fred on the island (am I the only one to have thought about Dolls of Takeshi Kitano looking at this scene?).
 Laurence Anyways is not just a nice object, though.
We are immediately taken by the drama the main characters are living through dialogues which sound right, powerful and original. Laurence is a man who loves women but wants to be a woman: could a story possibly be more tragic than this? We have passed, in Dolan’s cinema, from imaginary to impossible loves. And we feel it.
Dolan has been blessed by the presence of two incredible actors: Suzanne Clément (the teacher of J’ai tué ma mere) as Fred and Melvil Poupaud (who replaced Louis Garrell) as Laurence. They, as much as Dolan, are not afraid of anything and have clearly embraced their characters, giving all they could give in terms of tears and blood. In the role of Laurence’s mother, it is a pleasure to see one of the best French actresses, Nathalie Baye (irresistible when Laurence asked her: "Mum, do you still love me like this?" And she replies: "Are you becoming a woman or a bloody stupid?") and in minor roles, we find many of the actors from Les Amours Imaginaires (like lovely Monia Chokri).
Suzanne Clément - Fred
Melvil Poupaud - Laurence
Nathalie Baye - Laurence's mother
Being the first movie I have ever helped to produce (not a big contribution, but decent enough to be invited to the avant-première in Montreal last May), I feel particularly proud.
Whatever you think of this movie you can’t deny that, as everybody is telling to Laurence after his “change”: c’est special!
It’s Xavier Dolan, anyways...

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