Laurence Anyways Screen 19 articles

Laurence Anyways


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  • Shapeless, superficial and, at this excessive length, an endurance test, goosing itself with music-video interludes, surreal detail (a butterfly flutters out of Laurence's mouth) and scenes of gratuitous (emotional) violence; not a total wash, much of the design detail is eye-catching - but it mostly made me want to see Martyrs again, so I could watch Xavier Dolan being brutally murdered.

  • One scene at a crowded Saturday brunch, when Fred unleashes a torrent of stunningly inventive profanity at a condescending waitress, is as memorable as any this year. But at nearly three hours, it’s entirely too long, needlessly padded out with an intrusive interview-framing device. After two hours go by, certain choices — like Dolan’s coy avoidance of Laurence’s changing face during key moments — seem affected, rather than intriguing.

  • Laurence Anywaysis of course at most times a chore, but I wouldn’t say it’s boring: Dolan’s problem may be excess, but for me the length was not a concern, as its 160 (!) minutes went by rather smoothly.

  • Never mind that it looks like a U2 video circa Achtung Baby, Laurence Anyways counts as progress. Pompadoured wunderkind Xavier Dolan’s third film is his most mature, a step up from the contemptuous bonbon Les amours imaginaires (2010) and a more natural exercise in style-cribbing than his debut J’ai tué ma mere (2009). That isn’t to say it’s a work of restraint.

  • Aesthetics are paramount in this tale of male-to-female transformation ("do looks matter to you?" - "does air matter to the lungs?") which is why all the explosions of color and flamboyant backdrops and slow-motion sequences aren't just showy distractions.

  • Laurence Anyways has its share of crying fits, screaming fights, and preachy rants (including one in a small-town diner that involves smashing plates), but these sermons are windows on the emotional states of Dolan’s characters rather than soapboxes for the writer-director. And whenever the characters are unable to express themselves, the baroque visuals, which marry Sirkian mise en scène with Eighties MTV aesthetics, do it for them...

  • A gifted writer, Dolan likes to give his characters poignant mouthfuls, and you can tell the actors revel in his language. Recalling a similar instance in Dolan's first feature, "I Killed My Mother," the scene where Fred snaps at a nosy waitress is the kind of explosive monologue actors yearn for.

  • What [Laurence Anyways] represents is crucially specific, but the pain it articulates is universal: The film expresses, with much style and sophistication (if, at nearly three hours, perhaps an overabundance of both), the personal tragedy of love torn apart, of watching helplessly as your life crashes hard into another's but fails to stick.

  • As he’s exhibited in previous work, Dolan is a highly instinctual filmmaker. Fluctuating tones, temperatures, and rhythms form a wondrously paradoxical tapestry. The film feels simultaneously loose and deliberate, jokey and serious, a stylistic mishmash that probably shouldn’t work but somehow does.

  • For Dolan, the plot is, in effect, an opera libretto for which his splashily colorful, impressionistic images are the music; joined to the elbows-out, full-throttle histrionics, they evoke an intensity and a sympathy that override the director’s vague insights and skittery ideas.

  • On the morning Laurence comes out to her class, there's a long pause while the students stare; then the first to raise a hand asks a totally mundane question. The scene is followed by the prof's parade down a crowded school hallway. Laurence may not have been born to wear a pencil skirt, but she's a quick study. It's a disarming, funny sequence, and introduces the recurring motif that for Laurence the construction of identity is a kind of performance art.

  • I think I know what Dolan intended, I think I understand the [Laurence] character as he exists on the page, but Poupaud, a fine actor, wanders a bit. I put the blame for this squarely on Dolan, who loses control of the material at key moments... All of which makes Clément’s accomplishment even more impressive. Fred is also an underwritten character with by-the-book motivations, and yet Clément’s performance is so charged, she throws the entire film out of balance.

  • You sense [Poupoud and Clément] reaching out, invigorated by the challenging tonal contortions of this material, willing to try anything to break through the pat barriers of both a standard "issues" film as well as the general limitations of a cinematic romance that normally boils away the exhilarating mystery and pain of love, and Dolan more than honors them. It takes cojones for a filmmaker to chase Fassbinder's ghost, but it takes heart and talent to damn near catch up with it.

  • [...Dolan] is clearly in the middle of a burning creative streak. Evidently, he wants to go big—to make the movies that stay with you. But he has never mounted something as ambitious as his latest, a riot of ruffled clothes, strutting defiance and bruised endurance. (A mini-Kubrick, Dolan writes, directs, designs costumes, edits and sometimes acts, but not this time.) Separation and reconnection are destinations the film gestures to, along with a final flourish that can’t last.

  • The recklessness of youth may be the movie’s salvation: where an older director might have muted some of the more operatic scenes, fearing accusations of affectation, Mr. Dolan fearlessly lets fly. The result is a big, beautiful, rambling immersion in a passion whose heat is fueled primarily by its impossibility.

  • Laurence Anyways practically hums with the exhilaration of a director digging in his heels and pushing his boundaries, from its near-three-hour running time to its more explicit engagement with the cultural politics of queer existence. If the film ultimately reveals some of his artistic and ideological limits, it also offers a thrilling new variation of Dolan’s still-forming worldview, mapping his emotional intimacy and expressivity onto a large-scale canvas.

  • No amount of inside jokes or soft-focus backgrounds can shield the lovers from what’s coming, and Dolan simultaneously girds us and disarms us with the film’s epic-worthy aesthetics, the slowly approaching camera (reminiscent most recently of compatriot Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies) and long distance “tunnel” shots, down wood-paneled hallways, across the manicured street, or from the far end of a blue-hued bar, everyone waiting for someone to appear from offscreen with a solution.

  • The film is marked by moments of stunningly expressive stylization that put it in another league beyond the normal prestige picture “issues” biopic; it certainly has more going for it cinematically than The Dallas Buyers’ Club, the transgender-themed Oscar bait made by Dolan’s fellow Quebecois Jean-Marc Vallée.

  • It’s hard to overstate just how much Laurence Anyways is Poupaud’s film as much as it is Dolan’s. It’s all the more remarkable since the actor was a last-minute replacement, cast shortly before shooting began after Louis Garrel (for whom Dolan had written the role) bailed out. Garrel’s loss, our win; it’s unimaginable to think of anyone else inhabiting the role of Laurence.

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