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L'amour Fou 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars (25) IMDb 6.7/10

This extraordinary documentary provides an unprecedented look at the life of a mythic personality, Yves Saint Laurent, whose personal life matched his public for elegance, extravagance and passion.

Yves Saint-Laurent, Pierre Bergé
1 hour, 43 minutes

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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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