- Running time:
- 103 minutes
- Pierre Thoretton
- Overall User Rating:
- (0 ratings)
For over four decades, Pierre Bergé shared a glamorous, tempestuous life with legendary designer Yves Saint Laurent—first as his erstwhile lover, and then as his trusted business partner up until the designer's death in 2008. Together, they launched Saint Laurent's vaunted couture house in 1961, and through the years amassed luxurious homes in Paris and Marrakech, as well as a spectacular collection of artwork from the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani. In this reflective documentary, Bergé recalls his profound time with Laurent, reminiscing about their personal and professional partnership, sharing details about the designer's rampant addictions, and eventually masterminding a bank-breaking auction of their lavish possessions that was dubbed "the sale of the century."
The buzz: Behind every great designer is a great businessman. Marc Jacobs has Robert Duffy. Valentino had Giancarlo Giammetti. Saint Laurent had Bergé, who was the steady rudder to the designer's wild creative sail, steering him toward lucrative business tides while bracing him from his own destructive appetites, which included a litany of drug-fueled, hard-partying habits. With Bergé providing the commentary, this documentary offers a voyeuristic view from the inside of a successful if oftentimes tumultuous partnership.
The verdict: Bergé's participation imbues instant cache to the film, which features privileged footage of the couple's homes, as well as their estimable art collection—we see it being taken down and carefully packed away for auction. There are also prime archival clips of the designer canoodling with luminaries like Andy Warhol, and—of course—excerpted footage from his renowned shows. Strangely, the documentary, which opens with Saint Laurent announcing his retirement to the press, comes across more like a somber requiem than a celebratory tribute, owing mainly to the movie's languid pace and spartan visuals. "L'Amour Fou" is quiet—sometimes too quiet—and its plays out in mellow, lulling tones that feel sharply incongruous with the dynamic vigor of the designer's clothing, and his own glitzy life. Bergé ruminates on Saint Laurent with obvious affection, but the presentation becomes a meandering stream of memories, images, emotions that sometimes strains for focus. The film is less a single piece of smooth narrative fabric than a stitched-together frock of speckled anecdotes; the only real unifying thread comes from Bergé telling the story. Things perk up when we finally get to that famous auction, a thrilling climax of hungry bidders and multimillion-dollar sales that rivals the showstopping finales of Saint Laurent's own groundbreaking fashion shows.
Did you know? All told, the 733-piece art collection rang up a jaw-dropping $484 million in auction over three days, including $45 million for a Matisse painting, $36 million for a Brancusi sculpture, and $18 million apiece for two Chinese bronze sculptures dating back to 1860.
[“L'Amour Fou” is also available through “IFC In Theaters,” a video on demand service from select cable providers.]