When procrastinating one day at university, I stumbled across the trailer to Laurence Anyways, Xavier Dolan’s 2012 drama and Cannes debutant. I added it to my list of films to watch and continued to read about something dark and German related (most likely). Out of the blue I discovered that Laurence Anyways was screening at Kino International just around the corner from Alexanderplatz – perfect, or at least so I thought. Dolan taught me many things that evening, most importantly the importance of checking a films running time and then checking whether public transport will still be running – at 169 minutes this film is a long one, and an unnecessarily long one at that. I must be honest and say that my first impression was positive. 120 minutes plus in, and numerous unnecessarily long scenes later, my impression had somewhat changed. It had reached the point where I was desperately second guessing when (if?) this film was finally going to end. From the trailer I had discovered Moderat’s A New Error and fallen in love with this amazing track, and when this song finally played (I was waiting for it, as I knew it featured somewhere along the line) it was used in the Ile au Noir scene (see video above) – this, I believed, was a perfect ending. Visually and aurally this scene was sublime and was easily one of the films best; but everything continued.
By the time I came to leave, I quite honestly didn’t care what happened to Fred or Laurence. I didn’t care about artistic scenes, soundtracks and questions of sexuality and gender identity. I stupidly decided that as a result of my exhaustion, this film was ‘crap’. Yet something strange happened in the coming week. My boyfriend and I would discuss it more and more, we would rewatch scenes on Youtube and eventually we realised that actually we loved it after all, and so now I found myself back at square one – right back where I was when I saw the trailer. Intrigued and impressed.
So what I am trying to say is that this film is in fact great. It doesn’t make for a great ‘cinema experience’ (in the sense of sitting in a room with a crowd of strangers who can’t do anything quietly), but instead it is a brilliant piece of cinematography, and only if you give it the chance. Apart from the scene above, another stand out scene is the Scene du Bal (below) which again demonstrates Dolan’s aptitude for synching aural and visual elements perfectly. The soundtrack to this film was perfect and as you can see from the clip, costume and makeup were outstanding too. Melvil Poupaud and Suzanne Clément give strong and deeply emotional performances – particularly Clément’s portrayal of Fred – Laurence’s partner and soulmate. Clément’s character, in my eyes, stands out much more than Poupaud’s performance, which is reflected in her win at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard Best Actress category.
If you can spare the time, this film is a must see for so many different reasons. I haven’t even touched on the films exploration of (trans-)gender identity and sexuality here – there are so many different levels and layers to this film and it is difficult to take it all into account all at once and in one place.
(I do not own the rights to these videos)