Not to be confused with Jacques Rivette’s 1969 New Wave megalith of the same name, this “L’Amour Fou” is the latest in a pearl-string of fawning docs on famous fashion industrialists. (Apparently there’s a lot of vanity and venture capital floating around.)
Director Pierre Thoretton gathers scrapbook memories of the late designer Yves Saint Laurent, mostly from his longtime companion Pierre Bergé, and forgoes exhaustive biography for something moodier and more personal. It’s an appealing approach, and it gets by for quite a while on Gallic philosophical charm. The camera seems dazzled by whatever it sees, whether an elaborately decorated woman or house, a well-clad widower Bergé staring wistfully out a window, or the waifish wunderkind Saint Laurent himself in stock footage from the early glory days.
Wandering the globe and groping for a structure, Thoretton fixates on the auctioning off of the couple’s shared art collection, which has the souring effect of summing up their relationship as a fussy display of material wealth. (YSL is shown rallying votes for Mitterrand, lest we get the wrong idea, but by then the weird taste is already in mouth.) In this presentation, theirs doesn’t seem like a mad love, particularly, but it is potentially maddening: What exactly was the poor little rich boy so depressed about, anyway? Deadlines, really? Or maybe the terrible burden of fame? The existential conundrum of impulse-buying a house in Marrakesh? The steady support from a committed, tolerant partner? Ah, je ne sais quoi!