After I Killed My Mother and Heartbeats, 23-year-old filmmaker Dolan gets even more ambitious with this epic-length romantic drama. Not all of his flourishes work, and the film is far too long, but there are moments of artistic genius all the way through that make it worth seeing. It's also anchored by two terrific central performances that work their way under our skin.
At the centre is the free-spirited relationship between Laurence (Poupaud) and his long-time girlfriend Fred (Clement). But Fred is caught completely off-guard when Laurence tells her that he has always felt like he was a man in a woman's body, and now he wants to start the transition to become female. She initially rejects him, but realises that she still loves him, regardless of his gender. His mother (Baye) takes longer to come round. And for Laurence the treatment from his colleagues and society at large is even more difficult to cope with, as he's the brunt of rampant bigotry. Over the course of a decade, his relationship with Fred is stretched to the breaking point, and after a few years apart they meet up again to see if they still belong together.
Poupaud and Clement deliver startlingly naturalistic performances as Laurence and Fred, letting us see into their souls as they face secrets, betrayals, outside pressure and the continual feeling that they belong together. Intriguingly, all of this unfurls in a way that's completely organic, as Dolan grounds everything in real human emotions. In fact, the only complaint is that the film feels artistically indulgent, and could have used a stronger editor to shape the story into a leaner, less rambling narrative.
Continue reading: Laurence Anyways Review
Laurence and his girlfriend Fred couldn't ask for a more special relationship. They spend as much time as they have together and are as passionately in love with each other as they were when they met 10 years ago. Although tempers flare occasionally, the couple are dependent on one another and do everything within their power to disassociate themselves with other people, despite the fact that Laurence is constantly around others in his career as a teacher and writer. However, things aren't as perfect as they could be for Laurence. He has a secret that he hoped would be forgotten once he met Fred; he longs to be a woman. When he breaks down and confesses his feelings to Fred, she is initially shocked but agrees to try and make it work. When Laurence starts dressing as a woman, things are not straight forward and the prejudices of society cause him to be shunned in his career, criticised by his parents and beaten up in the street. Fred is also having second thoughts - can she maintain their troubled relationship even with the constant worry and societal pressure?
This hard-hitting French romance is one of the most mature storylines director and writer Xavier Dolan ('I Killed My Mother', 'Heartbeats') has ever worked on. It is set to be released on November 30th 2012 in the UK.
Director: Xavier Dolan
Continue: Laurence Anyways