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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on October 14, 2011
I found this documentary to be incredibly relaxing, almost therapeutic.
It is a story , where the chronological order is determined and organized in retrospect based on memory by Pierre Berge.
Any fashion designer will find peace in Pierre Berge's story about the first House of Yves Saint Laurent being off the main drag far away from the much larger and more established houses , because that is what they could afford at the time.
Also calming is the admission that these lives and collections were built slowly over a period of 20 or more years - and not over night - all at once.
In between Pierre Berge's recalling of the buildings of a lifetime - are overlapping segments of, in which, professional packers and movers carefully dismantle the meticulously placed items.
And as the film goes on - little by little - scene by scene - right up until the very end - and that's when it hits you.

The reality of this film.

Anyone who has experienced death, and has been left with the grim task of cleaning out the closets or removing those previously untouchable and prized possessions off of the top shelf - if you knew the person, if you loved the person and at times hated the person - there are stories to share - sometimes more for your own benefit , then anyone else's - as you do the reminiscent work. And that is exactly what this film is all about.
Eventually we relive Yves Saint Laurent's entire career. The walls of his houses are stripped bare and emptied out. Presumably so that they can go on market. The contents are sold at auction for over 364,000,000 million $$$$.
And Pierre Berge has closed a chapter that has occupied almost his entire life, so that he can began a new one as a major player in AIDS research.
The film literally ends with a backwards glance.
It's a haunting way to end such a film - since earlier Pierre Berge says very firmly - I was the one that closed his eyes - selling the art is nothing compared to that.

To me - it was a totally awesome film. I found myself lost in my own thoughts quite often. Highly recommended.
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Fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent left an indelible legacy in the world of couture in the 20th century. Assuming a position of prominence as Christian Dior's prodigy, the shy and unimposing figure ascended to the greatest heights in the fashion world over the next several decades. The French documentary "L'Amour Fou" offers but a fleeting glance into the man and his legend. The film is framed around the 2009 public auction of Saint Laurent's incredible collection of art. His life partner and business collaborator Pierre Berge disbanded this huge and priceless assortment shortly after Saint Laurent's death. Berge is also the primary contributor to telling the Saint Laurent story as the pair shared the better part of five decades together. In no way does this picture stand as a comprehensive biography of a life, instead we are treated to a rather open ended recollection of specific instances.

Anyone interested in Saint Laurent will undoubtedly be intrigued by this film. Strangely, though, the presentation seems both intimate and slightly guarded at the same time. Most successful, the film allows us to partake of the exquisite artwork itself and the gorgeously appointed homes in which it was showcased. Archival footage and photographs show us bits and pieces of Saint Laurent's fashion and career as well. But for all the intimations of grand passion ("L'Amour Fou" roughly translates to obsessive love), Berge and the filmmakers keeps things oddly dispassionate and distant. It's a title that seems to lack a bit of context. As such, Saint Laurent isn't particularly well defined as a full blooded man. While some of his achievements are categorized, there was a more troubled aspect to his persona that is referenced but not developed in any tangible way.

There is no denying the grand life that Saint Laurent must have lived. And there is no denying the major impact that his work had in the realm of fashion. His world, however, was more than the artifacts that he collected on the way. Sometimes I think this is lost in the telling of "L'Amour Fou." I loved being invited into the superficial world that surrounded Saint Laurent. But sometimes I wanted to get closer to understanding the man. As a lifelong partner in love and business, Berge was in a unique position to present a Saint Laurent with an intimacy that no one else could provide. He stays emotionally removed throughout. And while some anecdotes have entertainment value, they never added up to the cohesive whole I had hoped. While some documentaries cross all boundaries in bringing in new viewers not necessarily invested in the topic, this one will be of primary interest to those specifically intrigued by Saint Laurent, fashion and/or art. About 3 1/2 stars, I'll round up for the artwork on display. KGHarris, 9/11.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 10, 2011
Somehow, L'Amour Fou manages to paint an intimate portrait of fashion legend Yves St. Laurent, place it in historical context, tell a deeply moving love story, provide practical advice for moving through grief, and show some spectacular art in amazing interiors. It's a movie about friendships, clothes, art collecting, and the dark side of fame. Beginning with the speech announcing his retirement from "the industry that I have loved so much," it's a trip back and forward through time, fabled excesses, luxurious homes, unimaginable fame and finally, the acute melancholia of the art lovingly collected over twenty years being carted out of the apartment to the auction house.

The deeply shy St. Laurent showed his first collection at the age of 21 for Dior. How young that was, and how unprepared he must have been for the attention and acclaim it generated, and how fortunate for both of them that he'd met Pierre Berge at Dior's funeral. The two became a couple, and the relationship lasted fifty years; not, Berge says wryly, without ups and downs that he candidly describes. St. Laurent was a genius at what he did, he says, and the practical Berge did everything else.

In typically French ellipses, L'Amour Fou jumps from Berge's reminiscences, to archival photographs and film, to interviews with muses Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise to Marrakech travelogues, to bleak pictures of art being packed up and moved out of YSL/Berge's Rue Babylone Paris apartment. Berge's commentary reminds the viewer that the glittering excesses of St. Laurent's heyday had a dark side. The collections were shown twice a year. The only times the chronically depressed St. Laurent's black moods would lift were after these shows, and then only for a day and an evening, Berge tells us ruefully. Not an easy man to live with.

Despite his obvious shyness, St. Laurent comes across as endearing and modest in interviews. In a talk with a British journalist about his ready to wear collection, he said he wanted to make fashion available to women without much money. He did not like, he said, that couture was only accessible to the wealthy and in a later clip, apparently from a social evening, he says that joy was the most important quality in his friends.

YSL's contribution to 20th century culture is amazing. He refers to it in his last public speech when he announced he was retiring from fashion, but it comes across as modest rather than boastful. Berge emphasizes the point when he tells the stories about his first glimpse of a Mondrian dress, the Russian collection, and the collection obviously inspired by his love of the textures and colors of Morocco. YSL was apolitical, yet Berge describes St. Laurent's pride at receiving France's highest honor from Georges Mitterand.

To watch this film is to experience the torment of a deeply shy man thrust into the spotlight by his enormous talent, to understand the importance of the friends with whom he surrounded himself and to appreciate his impact on 20th century culture. Every time I open my closet, I appreciate YSL's contribution, though there's no couture to be found there. Toward the end of the film Berge makes a comment in talking about St. Laurent's decision to retire. "Fashion," he says with contempt, "has been taken over by tradesmen." Perhaps that's why the only fashion news to hit the headlines recently (besides, of course, Kate Middleton's wedding dress) has been fueled by scandal(Galliano) and suicide (McQueen).

This is not a feel-good movie, but it is a lovely tribute to a rare talent and an even rarer relationship. Highly recommended.
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Fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent left an indelible legacy in the world of couture in the 20th century. Assuming a position of prominence as Christian Dior's prodigy, the shy and unimposing figure ascended to the greatest heights in the fashion world over the next several decades. The French documentary "L'Amour Fou" offers but a fleeting glance into the man and his legend. The film is framed around the 2009 public auction of Saint Laurent's incredible collection of art. His life partner and business collaborator Pierre Berge disbanded this huge and priceless assortment shortly after Saint Laurent's death. Berge is also the primary contributor to telling the Saint Laurent story as the pair shared the better part of five decades together. In no way does this picture stand as a comprehensive biography of a life, instead we are treated to a rather open ended recollection of specific instances.

Anyone interested in Saint Laurent will undoubtedly be intrigued by this film. Strangely, though, the presentation seems both intimate and slightly guarded at the same time. Most successful, the film allows us to partake of the exquisite artwork itself and the gorgeously appointed homes in which it was showcased. Archival footage and photographs show us bits and pieces of Saint Laurent's fashion and career as well. But for all the intimations of grand passion ("L'Amour Fou" roughly translates to obsessive love), Berge and the filmmakers keeps things oddly dispassionate and distant. It's a title that seems to lack a bit of context. As such, Saint Laurent isn't particularly well defined as a full blooded man. While some of his achievements are categorized, there was a more troubled aspect to his persona that is referenced but not developed in any tangible way.

There is no denying the grand life that Saint Laurent must have lived. And there is no denying the major impact that his work had in the realm of fashion. His world, however, was more than the artifacts that he collected on the way. Sometimes I think this is lost in the telling of "L'Amour Fou." I loved being invited into the superficial world that surrounded Saint Laurent. But sometimes I wanted to get closer to understanding the man. As a lifelong partner in love and business, Berge was in a unique position to present a Saint Laurent with an intimacy that no one else could provide. He stays emotionally removed throughout. And while some anecdotes have entertainment value, they never added up to the cohesive whole I had hoped. While some documentaries cross all boundaries in bringing in new viewers not necessarily invested in the topic, this one will be of primary interest to those specifically intrigued by Saint Laurent, fashion and/or art. About 3 1/2 stars, I'll round up for the artwork on display. KGHarris, 9/11.
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on May 10, 2014
If you like fashion, fashion history, and entering the world from a documentary like perspective - enjoy this. Not a Hollywood block buster but more the folks in the field, lol, and understanding a little about these folks - not all will enjoy this. But, all will gain insight and ideas.
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on December 24, 2013
Released three years after the death of YSL, L'Amour Fou is narrated by his life long business and life partner, Pierre Berge (in French with English subtitles). The film begins in their lavish Paris apartment as their extensive art collection is being catalogued and dismantled for removal. The collection will be shown and eventually auctioned for an astonishing $484M - the world's record for a private collection. The glimpses into their sumptuous apartment are my favorite part of the film. The layering of color, pattern, texture and objects was truly amazing - it was actually a shame to dismantle what they had built up over 20 years, but art is meant to be shared and passed on. Pierre knew that Yves would never have allowed a single object to be sold while he was still alive - the collection was his labor of love - every object perfectly placed and lit.

The history of YSL's depression and addictions was difficult to hear about - a man who had every reason to be happy, based on his talents and opportunities and prosperity, was a deeply troubled soul who never really enjoyed what he had. Pierre's narration of his relationship with his troubled partner is probably meant to be deeply emotional and profound, but somehow come across as oddly dispassionate.

L'Amour Fou presents one man's view of the inspired designer, Yves Saint Laurent, now a household word, who changed the world of fashion with his exciting designs. Well researched and edited, the film calls upon hundreds of still photos and clips to build a montage of YSL's life over many decades. Definitely worth watching.
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on October 25, 2015
Having recently visited the Bowes museum in the UK to see the YSL exhibition, this film brought the clothes and designer to life.

Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) met in 1957 at the funeral of Christian Dior. They fell in love and later after YSL had a nervous breakdown and was sacked from his job as head designer at Dior started their fashion house with Bergé very much in charge of the business side. Over their years together they became very wealthy living an opulent life in their many beautiful houses until Saint Laurent's death 50 years later.

We see that Bergé is an articulate and brilliant business man, his demeanour is that of a French cabinet minister, and he's the principal speaker in this elegant documentary built around the sale of the most magnificent and fabulous art collection they amassed together.

Bergé talks frankly of his partner's delicacy and sensitivity, his alcoholism, drug-taking and terrible bouts of depression. It was far from an easy relationship and Berge explains how they spent many months apart due to YSL hedonistic behaviour and how the immense pressure of designing collection after collection destroyed YSL, who just wanted to design dresses and not have all the media frenzy and fame that came with it.

I found myself questioning YSL childhood, a boy who was fascinated with dressing his dolls and designing women's dresses, possibly someone who never fitted in with or was accepted by his peers, adding to his great shyness and deep sensitivity. One can only conjecture.

It’s a touching love story, but Berge is very ‘matter of fact’ about it all. But you still get a sense of his deep devotion to YSL. You also get to see many of YSL stunning clothes from numerous collections over the years. The extras on the DVD are also very interesting and informative.
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on December 18, 2012
A sensitive portrayal of a beautiful love story showing the partner who was the strength behind St. Laurent in a positive way. Fine filming and wonderful views of their treasures as they were being transported lovingly to the auction house. A must for anyone interested in art, fashion, and of course in Marcel Proust!
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on May 10, 2014
I agree with all the reviews here. I believe the title "A Passionate Love" was meant to refer to Laurent's love of artwork but it ultimately referred to the love that Berge had for Laurent which is the real, although probably unintended, theme of this film. What an example of spousal devotion! Berge was able to remain totally devoted to Laurent yet was not overshadowed by him and maintained his own identity. He is also the textbook case of someone who can "do well by doing good". Berge was an aesthete but was still interested in the good of society. He supported AIDS research although Laurent's own gay promiscuity had hurt him deeply. He supported a socialist president although it would probably mean substantially higher taxes for himself. He could see beyond Laurent's mental illness and still promote his talent,. In other words, he was the rarest of combinations, a very shrewd businessman with a very broad vision and a truly compassionate heart. I hope that a biography will be published in English about this remarkable man.
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on October 8, 2011
A touching film in many respects. It touches on the career highlights of Yves St. Laurent, but mostly as background. The real heart of the story is the 50 year relationship with his partner, and of him letting go after the death of St. Laurent. While he puts up a brave front and is a very dignified man, I suspect that once the camera is off and he is behind closed doors, his emptions come flooding out. I found this to be a touching movie.
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