Laurence Anyways (review)

Laurence Anyways red light Melvil Poupaud

I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

There’s a moment very early on here, in which Montreal teacher Laurence (Melvil Poupaud: Speed Racer), who has finally acknowledged to himself his– er, now her own transsexuality, walks into school for the first time dressed as the woman she has always known herself to be, and her teenaged students stare at her in dumbfoundment. Slowly, uncertainly, after a long painful silence, one student raises her hand to ask a question… and it’s just a query about the assignment they were all supposed to be reading. It’s a lovely moment about acceptance and tolerance and people just not giving a fuck about stuff that simply doesn’t impact them in any meaningful way. It misled me into thinking that Laurence Anyways was going to be something more down-to-earth than it turned out to be: a ridiculously overlong and self-consciously “arty” mishmash of baroque cartoonishness and moments that, to all outward appearances, are determined to be parodies of pretentious filmmaking. A butterfly flies out of Laurence’s mouth! It’s a metaphor for her bodily transformation! *grrrr* Ostensibly framed as an exploration of the long-term relationship between Laurence and the girlfriend (Suzanne Clément) she acquired while she was living as a man, this tedious film offers little in the way of psychological insight into its unusual protagonist, preferring instead to indulge in “funky” 80s nostalgia that 23-year-old Québécois writer-director Xavier Dolan can himself have no firsthand knowledge of, and ignoring potentially intriguing and intimately dramatic ideas — such as that Laurence’s mother (Nathalie Baye: Catch Me If You Can) hated her son but now loves her daughter — in favor of overwrought fantastical imagery of, say, colorful clothing improbably raining down in a monotone snowscape. Because Art. Rarely have I felt a film such a chore to sit through.

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.
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