Laurence Anyways

I don’t have much to say about the whole Caitlyn Jenner-break the internet thing. I hope she’s happy and getting happier with her transition. I’m not a fan of the Jenner-Kardashian machine, and it feels weird to me to take something so intimate and personal and seek to profit from it, but I guess she’s only following the family business model. I just hope it doesn’t cheapen the real struggle that less privileged people go through with their own transitions every day, out here in the real world.

Laurence-AnywaysLaurence Anyways is a 2012 movie by talented Canadian director Xavier Dolan. It’s about a man, Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) who, in the late 80s and his early 30s, decides he must live as the woman he’s always known himself to be. Hurdle number one: breaking the news to his girlfriend Fred (Suzanne Clement), who goes through the predictable knee-jerk reactions – are you gay, have you ever worn my panties, I’m leaving you. But she can’t really leave him. Leave her, I should say, and soon becomes his biggest supporter.

Dolan is a young director who’s still finding his way with this film. There are some crazy set pieces that don’t always Laurence-Anyways-Xavier-Dolan-2012work, but are still admirable and some quite memorable. He’s clearly got a visual talent beyond your average director. But he brings this movie in at nearly three hours, and it just doesn’t need to be that long. In fact, the film’s first 20 minutes are probably the most editable. And the interview framework feels forced and unnecessary.

Poupaud and particularly Clement are masterful here. I really enjoyed scenes between Laurence and his ice-bitch mother, played wonderfully by Nathalie Baye. There’s a lot this film is telling us in sideways glances and throwaway remarks. Poupaud’s quiet moments work like magic. The maxresdefaultfirst day Laurence wears a dress to his job (as a college professor) is a minute in film that needs to be studied. The silence is crafted beautifully. Clement, meanwhile, gets to be the explosive one, her red hair accenting her passionate missives like fireworks.

There are some mis-steps here but Dolan presents his flamboyant film with confidence, if a little too much music, a little too stylized. But it’s something to behold, and this kid just keeps getting better and better.

 

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23 thoughts on “Laurence Anyways

  1. DotedOn

    You are right, I can’t even imagine how hard a transition like that could be for an average Joe (no good surgeries and all)..
    It reminded me of the movie: To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo and Wesley Snipes).

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      1. DotedOn

        I only remember 2 actors and had to look it up… I don’t think that even the director remembers the title of that movie 😀

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  2. Carrie Rubin

    I left a comment last night, but I’ve learned none of my comments went through on any of the blogs I commented on. Argh.

    I was saying I hope some of the money Caitlin Jenner gets out of this goes to the LGBT community. I’m sure there are many groups that could use her support.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Good thought. There are lots of people who have those feelings but can’t afford the therapy, the pills, the surgery, let alone the makeover to make it all happen. These things should be covered by basic health care but mostly aren’t.

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  3. Andrew

    First, I’m so happy that you saw this and that you like it. This movie is just remarkable. Clement, in my eyes, delivers the greatest performance of the decade so far here, and such a remarkably crafted character. This study of a woman’s transition into her own is so special because it is two fold,and it never makes a victim or an antagonist out of anyone. Fred is never the bad guy to Laurence’s need to change, and she’s never really the victim either, and visa-versa. They are presented as an amalgam of both because in the reality of things, the situation is both a victim and an antagonist to both individuals. Dolan’s balance of storytelling and character development is astonishing. I personally took no issue to the length or the crazy stylized sets and music choices because that’s just who Dolan is and I love his style as a storyteller.

    Anyways, I’d love your thoughts on my review from 2013:
    http://afistfuloffilms.blogspot.com/2013/11/lets-review-something-laurence-anyways.html

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    1. Jay Post author

      I thought it was a very mature choice to have their breakup be basically unrelated to the change in gender. That wasn’t the problem between them, maybe they were never meant to be, but they clearly meant a lot to each other and got to go through that crazy time together. I wish everyone had someone like that to see them through.

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  4. Al Pennwasser

    Your first paragraph NAILS it. Even though I’ve taken my share of cheap shots at Jenner, I’m going to stop. As long as she’s happy and is hurting no one, let her live her life….

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    1. Jay Post author

      I know, that family really kind of asks for it, and in a sense, depends on it. If we all stopped talking about them, would they still exist? I do not believe anyone would switch genders for the attention. I believe Bruce was an attention whore, and so is Caitlyn. Makes sense. I hope she gets some peace and happiness.

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    2. Jay Post author

      Yeah, I mean, she obviously courts it and her livelihood depends on people watching. I hope she can sort out the business from the personal and get on with it.

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  5. ruth

    I basically try as hard as I can to tune out the Kardashian circus, though it proves to be difficult w/ social media. This one doesn’t immediately appeal to me, but I know Dolan’s career on fire right now. Nice to see young talented filmmakers making his way.

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  6. Salty Popcorn

    Dolan is one of my directing gods – top 5 directors – worship is work, mostly stylised – sadly this is his only film I have not seen – this will be rectified immediately 🙂

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