Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"Laurence Anyways": Sex Changes Always Complicate a Relationship 

Wednesday, Jun 26 2013
Comments

As befits a proper love story, this romantic epic from 24-year-old Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan pours forth in an irresolute, undisciplined torrent. It takes energy, and audacity, for a movie to be all over the place without seeming to get anywhere; life sometimes is like that too. Their relationship presented early on with a slightly strenuous Sid-and-Nancy vibe, it's obvious that novelist Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) and novelist's-girlfriend Frédérique (Suzanne Clément) are soulmates. Together they keep a running list of "things that subtly minimize our pleasure," which includes early-morning jackhammers and parents who paint their kids' rooms in pastels, and, um, closed-minded attitudes about gender transitions. This last becomes a problem when Laurence figures out that he'd rather be a woman. So how does soulmatedom encourage or impede self-actualization? That's a good cinematic question, gamely taken up by Dolan with the understanding that answers should feel earned, not easy. The story spans a decade and the movie spans nearly three hours. Slow deliberation is important, but not all the time is well spent: Some scenes fall like little maudlin bathos bombs; others play out with exquisite emotional honesty. Certainly it is wholeheartedly acted, even if Clément's frequent histrionics start seeming collectively like an audition reel. The downside of Dolan's arty affect and indulgent sprawl is most apparent when his otherwise understandably wavering narrative line unspools and the film mires in a pastiche of videos for the late-'80s pop songs saturating its soundtrack. But it gets beyond that, and beyond being merely another issue movie, by having a soul.

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

Bio:
SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

Related Locations

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"