Directed by Xavier Dolan
With Melvil Poupaud, Suzanne Clément, Nathalie Baye
Nationality: Canada, France
"I want to become a woman". It's the 90's and Laurence is sharing with his girlfriend, Frederique, the news that will redefine their relationship. In spite of the dimensions of the challenge, they confront the prejudices of their friends, ignore the concern of their families and brave the attitudes of the society they offend. They try to survive this transition and embark on a ten year journey which, of course, may well cost Fred and Laurence their love.
This, the third feature from rising Quebec director Xavier Dolan, caused a stir when featured in the "Certain Regard" category at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Its leading lady won Best Actress within that competition and the movie itself emerged as winner of the Queer Palm.
Any film that explores the effect of being transexual on a heterosexual relationship is likely to generate interest and controversy not least when it runs for this long. Timed at almost three hours, Laurence Anyways is an intimate, modern love story presented on a grand canvas that allows a stunning look to every single shot.
French cinema star, Melvil Poupard, stars as the eponymous Laurence, an average 30-year-old man, an award winning novelist and literature teacher. Suzanne Clement plays the part of fiery Frederique and earned the Cannes prize in the process. The two are undeniably soul mates, but that status may or may not survive the problem that Laurent really wants to be a she, and is determined to embark on his gender realignment. Fred, Laurence’s loyal lady friend, chooses to stand by her hitherto man to try and make it work. So the film is less an exploration of surgery and its aftermath than a look at a classic relationship-gone-awry scenario, a couple incapable of staying together without fights and upsets, incapable of separating because the bond between them seems unbreakable.
Nathalie Baye, playing Laurence’s mother, brings wit and bluntness to the script while Monia Chokri adds extra comic relief as Fred's sarcastic sister. Easy on the eye are the wonderfully stylised costumes and sets, the action based in 1990s Montreal,. Easy on the ear is a soundtrack featuring a cast of pop artists perfect for pink-pound cinema: Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Kim Carnes, The Cure, Visage to name but five.
And, as it happens, you don’t have to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender to appreciate the twists and turns of emotion that carry us to the end of the ride. It's a film for most seasons and won't disappoint those for whom examinations of the human condition makes the best movies. Check out the Trailer below.
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