Title: Laurence Anyways
Love is blind, and rather complicated. What Xavier Dolan’s latest piece “Laurence Anyways” successfully does is sculpt what is an amazing and complex romance between a young-ish couple as they go through an ever-changing landscape between the decades and their own lives.
First we should explain what the movie’s about for those who’ve never heard of this. “Laurence Anyways” focuses on a happily dating couple (Melvil Poupaud, Suzanne Clément) whose lives change after a sudden confession: Laurence has always wanted to and will now publicly start dressing like a woman. Their lives are turned inside-out over the confession but the bigger question is if their relationship will be able to withstand the sudden change.
Although the movie clocks in for over two hours, every scene is vital to the plot. There are a myriad of scenes that burn into your mind when you’re sitting through “Laurence Anyways.” Each scene is so carefully crafted that during some points you feel like Mr. Dolan may have been creating each scene individually ever since he was a teenager. The specific way the camera dances around a character, floats across a room or softly settles on an individual is nothing short of gorgeous. When you go through the first half hour you fall under the impression that perhaps he puttered out, prematurely giving the audience the best that his vision can dish out cinematically through clever camera movement, but you’re dead wrong. He continues to leave the audience in constant awe over each individual scene.
It as if Mr. Dolan understands our culture’s sudden heavy love affair with nostalgia from the nineties prior and takes full advantage of it. In a way its used as a wonderful bookmark as we go through the different chapters of this couple’s tumulus relationship. If you’ve seen any of Dolan’s previous work you understand that the filmmaker has an eye for perfection within the details. That means everything, from the production design to the carefully selected soundtrack all serves a purpose. Even specific songs sprinkled throughout the feature all are poignant to the scene that’s taking place. Not to mention one of the strongest scenes to resonate involves our characters a few years in the future where Laurence’s current girlfriend sees Frederique with her own eyes all strung along together to the tune of Duran Duran’s “The Chauffeur.” It’s difficult to settle on a particular scene as your favorite just because each one is just so carefully created and shot.
Suzanne Clement took so much time into creating the different layers that is Fred that it’s as if this character has been with her for years on end. She’s filled with such fire and lets it out when necessary, like bullets out of a gun, during particular events through the character’s life. We already know right off the bat that Frederique isn’t just no ordinary, submissive woman that’ll try whatever it takes to please her man. She’s independent, opinionated and struggling to deal with her own form of identity when her lover, Laurence, has found his. The delicate decline of her own life as his changes for mostly the better is a sight to see. The way that Suzanne Clement handles Fred as she continues to walk across the tightrope that is her on and off relationship with Laurence is a sight to behold. To simply put it: what a woman.
Then there’s Laurence, our hero who not only has to undergo dramatic changes in his appearance physically but must deal with the consequences for said actions. After all, this is a respected college professor we’re talking about who one day walks into class wearing women’s clothes and makeup. While he’s loud and proud to be what he is, and what he continues to change into as his bouts of transgender dressing goes on, the judgmental world has their stern eyes on him. Laurence is more submissive, quiet and has always been more feminist in nature even within the first fifteen minutes of the film as he goes through his perfect life up until the big confession. Even though Melvil Poupaud came in far later than the game than Suzanne Clement, you never would have guessed. Laurence is a part of him and yet a part of us in a strange way. There are certain aspects of ourselves at one point we wished to change for ourselves. We’ve been there. That’s why it must have been rather easy to slide into a role of this caliber. We all want to be our own unique and free forms of ourselves and Laurence is a prime example of what that kind of uninhibited freedom looks like, but on film.
Lastly this is a romance story, though a very complicated one. This has to be one of the truest, most heart wrenching and utterly romantic stories that’s appeared in theaters recently. It’s love and in all of it’s many forms. You’re dealing with the love of a sister and a best friend, trying to console her sibling about whether or not she should continue to pursue a suddenly topsy-turvy relationship. There’s the mother and son, which normally is a rather complicated relationship, and how they try to cope when life events change the both of them. Lastly there’s our main love story between a guy and a girl who both still strive to find their way through the seemingly endless number of obstacles that try to prevent them from getting back to those first two blissful years of their relationship. And that’s what Laurence Anyways does so brilliantly. It makes the love story flawed and ultimately real. There’s always been that scenario where you wished that a bad relationship would suddenly turn into bliss again, where the two of you would run off into the sunset living happily ever after. Life isn’t like that and that’s one of the many things that makes Laurence Anyways one of the most beautiful movies to be made within the past few years. If this comes out in any theaters near you, you’d be a fool to miss this.