Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan, 2012): Canada / France

Reviewed by Lorena Alvarez. Viewed at the AFI Fest 2012

I was so impressed with  Xavier Dolan’s previous films that I was looking forward to watching his most recent film, Laurence Anyways. His first and second films, I Killed My Mother and Heartbeats, were a revelation to those who did not know this 23 year old filmmaker. Like their characters, Dolan is not afraid of anything, and once again, he decided to take a controversial topic for his last film, giving us so much expectations for someone who is starting with the seventh art.

The film starts with Laurence (played by Melvil Poupaud), who  is a French professor in his mid-thirties. He has a happy life with his fiancée Fred (Suzanne Clément) who is an assistant film director. But there is something eating away at Laurence, something that he has never told anyone before. He despise his masculine exterior, he wants to be a woman.  Laurence is no longer comfortable with suppressing her feminine personality. And he does not care if society disagrees with him anymore, so he decides to reveal his secret. At first Fred is in shock because she thinks everything she lived with him is a lie, but she decides to support him and stay with him. However Fred loves Laurence, the man, and cannot stand the idea of a life without him without any change.  They want to preserve their loving relationship at all costs, but unfortunately, their bodies are more substantial than their feelings. The couple has to struggle with the social hostility, but first they have to accept one each other as they are.

Good acting all around, Suzanne Clément,  Monia Chokri ,Nathalie Baye and  Melvil Poupaud (who offers his best performance to date in the picture) made an excellent job
. The filmmaker used  a lot of music in the whole film, especially in slow motion montages. Many of the scenes I felt as if they were only happening because Dolan wanted to work some particular songs into the soundtrack. Despite everything, this is a technically well made film, specially the editing: good transitions and good graphic match. The Mise-en-scène is beautiful, Dolan used color coordination between the actors and the scenery. Almost every frame of this film is  visually gorgeous.

I think Laurence Anyways tells a current story with an important message. Nowadays, people are more open to discuss issues related to sexuality and accept them more than before. In my personal opinion, this film is totally worth it. The negative aspect: this movie is just too long.

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