film Review

For anyone with an interest in fashion and haute couture, L’Amour Fou is a must-see documentary. Recorded during the 2009 auction which saw Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé’s impressive art collection sold off following Saint Laurent’s death, the documentary examines the life of the world-renowned designer through the eyes of his partner, both in life and in business, as Bergé very honestly describes the troubled life of one of the biggest names in 20th Century fashion.

From the start of his career working as Christian Dior’s assistant, to the opening up of his own designer fashion house in his early twenties, all the way through to his retirement, Bergé openly discusses his partner’s genius as a designer, but also his lifelong battle with depression, his shyness and his often destructive relationship with alcohol and drugs. While the subject of Saint Laurent’s death itself is not really touched upon, the auction of the stunning collection of art the couple had built up over their life together symbolises the ending of a very important relationship. The documentary is filled with archival footage of Saint Laurent, and uses interviews with many of the other people who knew him best to illustrate Bergé’s words. L’Amour Fou is a documentary not only about the brilliance of Saint Laurent’ work, but, more prominently, it is about the importance of his relationship with Bergé (to all aspects of his life).

The documentary is beautifully shot, and explores many of the places Saint Laurent and Bergé set up home. It does, however, tend to linger on exterior shots of the gardens of their houses, or the landscape around them. Several sequences simply involve the camera making its way through the rooms in which the art is displayed, quietly taking in the breath-taking beauty of some of the pieces. For an audience interested in the fashion world, and learning more about the designer himself, these sequences may well prove to be tedious, and could perhaps have been a little bit shorter. For fans of a more art-house style of film, however, these sequences fit in perfectly.

This is not a run of the mill documentary – it has more of an artistic flair to it and, with the beautiful scenery and intriguing artwork, it gains an almost mysterious quality. The final shot sees Bergé turn-around from wistfully staring out of the window, to silently stare directly into the camera, an interesting way of ending a very honest documentary, but again, with an almost art-house feel to it. This style of documentary could not find a more fitting subject matter than the life of an incredible fashion designer, who experienced a complicated mixture of unprecedented success and incurable sadness and loneliness, which even the man he loved could not seem to change. L’Amour Fou is a fascinating look at the life of Saint Laurent through the people who knew him best.


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