Last year two competing movies about the life of designer Yves Saint Laurent were released. One of them, Yves Saint Laurent was recently added to Netflix, and so I finally got to see it. To be honest, I was not all that eager to see the film, as YSL – the man, not the designer – seriously depresses me. After sitting through a documentary that was filmed before his death, I’d vowed to never sit through two hours of Yves ever again.
But I broke my promise,and I’ve got to say that this movie was a very mixed bag. First, I’ll give you the good news. Because Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s longtime lover and business partner, and the president of the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, was involved with this film, the makers had access to the YSL archive, including the actual clothing. Much of what is shown in the fashion show sequences is thus the real deal, and it shows.
Unfortunately, there was just not much that could be done to make Saint Laurent a more sympathetic or likable character. Not that he is shown as unlikable, it is just that all the drugs and poor choices combined with the poor, fragile persona that he projected make the depiction of him hard to watch.
It helps to know a bit about Saint Laurent’s life, as the movie is fast-paced, and it is in French with sub-titles. It seemed to me that it would have been hard to follow had I not already known much of the story.
So, would I recommend Yves Saint Laurent? Yes, but only for the look at those fabulous clothes in action. Otherwise, unless you love watching a talented and creative man self-destruct, give it a pass.