The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

I’m glad I’m not 23 so I can love Xavier Dolan without any reservation

with 16 comments

If I was 23 years old I would probably hate Xavier Dolan. At least a little bit. Not that there’s nything wrong with him, but just hearing about what he has achieved so far in his life would be enough to make anyone in the 20ths something fall into a gloomy mindset, asking those questions:

“Why am I not as talented as he is? What have I accomplished with my life so far? Why haven’t I made an effort? “ And then the conclusion would come: “It’s too late. I’m a failure I could as well give up already”.

So this young man from Canada has now made his third full length feature film, Laurence Anyways. Yes, you read it correctly: third. OK, it’s not a box office hit, at least not in Sweden, where until now 1057 people have seen it, including me, which puts it spot 200 in the statistics of 2012. But the unanimous prise it has received from film critics and the bunch of nominations and awards from film festivals is enough to make anyone envious.

Xavier Dolan has not only written and directed the movie; he has also edited it and designed the costumes. Besides he’s got the looks of a photo model, at least on the picture of him at IMDb.

Oh, how I would hate this guy some years ago! Now, at 44, I’m a little bit more on terms with myself and my place in the world, my talent or lack of talent and what I’m making of it. Or at least I don’t measure myself as much against other people as I used to. Instead of being jealous, I rejoice over the fact that his talent was discovered at such a young age, so he’ll get a long career and bring a lot of great movies to the world.

Melancholic and beautiful
Laurence Anyways tells the story about Laurence, a 35 year old college professor, who one day declares to his astonished girlfriend Fred that he has been living in a lie. He’s still in love with her, but from now on he wants to dress and appear like a woman. Fred tries to be as accepting and open about it as she possibly can, but the change ends up putting a big strain on their relation, not to mention the relation to Laurence’s parents and employer.

It’s a story of love and loss, of liberation and imprisonment – sometimes funny and uplifting, but mostly melancholic and heartbreaking. While still loving each other, Laurence and Fred seem to be doomed as a couple. Even if you are accepting towards people who cross the genders, it’s not necessarily something you can cope with when it comes to sex.

I also need to mention something about the visuals. There are moments in this film that are simply stunningly beautiful. Like when a butterfly suddenly flies out of the mouth of someone or when clothes in every colour start to fall from the sky, like a rain of confetti. And there seems to be no particularly reason for it, apart from that it looked nice.

It seems as if Xavier Dolan happily will include almost anything that comes to mind, and the result is that the movie is quite long movie (2 hr 48 min). To be honest I think it it’s a little overly long; it probably could have been trimmed down with at least 20 minutes without losing much. Perhaps this is the downside of being in charge of just about everything in a movie: there’s no one around to tell you when it’s time to kill some darlings.

There is still a little something missing before I’m ready to slap on the “genius” level to Xavier Dolan. But considering his obvious talent and the kick start of his career, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up being one. I’ll be watching him, that’s for sure.

Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan, CA, 2012) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

October 23, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Laurence Anyways

16 Responses

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  1. Wow, the 23-year old you was hard on herself…


    October 23, 2012 at 6:18 am

    • Aye. It’s a good thing you get older and less ambitious…


      October 23, 2012 at 7:33 am

  2. I totally agree with you on that point. It’s rare for such a young director to be so talented, and if I was still 23, I’d find it a bit disheartening too.

    But I also enjoyed this film quite a bit. Dolan is such a great storyteller. I was so wrapped up in these characters and their lives that the running time was never a factor. Also, that one scene in the diner was something else. Suzanne Clément’s performance made the packed crowd I saw this with spontaneously applaud, deservedly so.

    Bonjour Tristesse

    October 23, 2012 at 8:21 am

    • Oh yes, I think you mean the scene at the café? It was excellent. I think both of the leading actors were brilliant. Like so much else about this film. I think it’s amazing that a 23 year old can write such a mature and insightful script, among many things.


      October 23, 2012 at 7:31 pm

  3. It’s seems this could be another little hidden gem Jessica. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Mark Walker

    October 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

    • You definitely should see this if you get the chance. Judging from IMDb the release seems limited though. I know it was screened at Cannes. I was lucky to catch it at my local arthouse cinema.


      October 23, 2012 at 7:28 pm

  4. 23 is not a good age!! Life began at 30 for me!!

    • True. And who knows what lies in the future? Maybe we’ll reach yet another level of inisight and happiness at 50? You never know. 🙂


      October 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm

  5. […] is a film I am desperately hoping gets a cinema release in Australia. At The Vevlet Café Jessica reviews the film and calls it “melancholic and […]

  6. Great post. And I won’t say I hate him, but at 22, I’m definitely very jealous.


    October 25, 2012 at 10:35 am

    • Thanks Fernando! Well it gives you one more year to prove yourself. 🙂


      October 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm

  7. It’s best not to dwell too long about those things. A few weeks ago I noticed that none of the Beatles were older than me (28) at the time they split. Heck, they made some of my all time favourite albums of all times before they were 30, as the beatles and as three of their solo projects.

    If I see a movie of him on TV, I’ll be sure to watch it 🙂


    October 28, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    • Ouch. As you say: better not think about it.
      As of Dolan I doubt this is the kind of films they’ll show on public TV. But who knows, in 20 years time he might be one of the big names. 🙂


      October 29, 2012 at 9:26 am

  8. […] Laurence Anyways While probably a tad too long, this is a beautiful film from an extremely talented young filmmaker – visually and emotionally stunning. […]

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