Gaspard Ulliel in Saint Laurent
Credit: Carole Bethuel

Saint Laurent

There’s a moment in this voluptuously funky and filthy portrait of French fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent in which Yves (Gaspard Ulliel) is popping a pill, smoking a cigarette, swigging vodka, and making out with his lover—all simultaneously. You’ll understand more about his troubled soul and appetite for self-destruction from that one bit than from most of last year’s polite, state-authorized biopic Yves Saint Laurent. Director Bertrand Bonello (The Pornographer) prefers cracked-up fragments from the designer’s 1970s heyday to any noble attempts to demystify him. While some parts drag, such as a protracted meeting between Yves’ partner Pierre Bergé (Jérémie Renier) and American investors, the film’s overall energy and synth-scored kink is dizzying, especially in scenes of Yves waking up covered in snakes. And actor Ulliel, who’s been the face of both Chanel and Hannibal Lecter (in 2007’s Hannibal Rising), knows how to slither. His version of Yves is spoiled, insecure, cruel—and, in the movie’s ironic final shot, tickled to death that we still seem to care about him. A–

Saint Laurent
2014 movie
  • Movie
  • 150 minutes