TIFF: Laurence Anyways


Director: Xavier Dolan

by Toastie in T-dot

Canada has done well over the last decade at the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Many fantastic films have been nominated including the emotional yet sweet Monsieur Lazhar (2011), the intense heat of Incendies (2010) and of course Denys Arcand’s sequel to his 1986 classic Le Déclin de L’empire Américain, the unforgettable Les Invasions Barbares which won in 2003.

Enough about those films – I am hear to talk about this year’s winner of Best Canadian Film at the Toronto International Film Festival: Laurence Anyways, directed by Montreal’s new rising star, Xavier Dolan. This is his third film, his previous two have won critical acclaim at Cannes in the past. His new film is about the impossible and difficult relationship between a man and a woman after the man, Laurence, decides to have a sex change after years of unhappiness. What ensues is a music and 90’s fashion filled two and half hours of intense drama, sprinkled with humour and a bit of sparkle.

From the first opening shot you get the impression that this film is going to be intense and beautiful. The music, the fashion, the dancing, the décor, it’s all very early 1990’s. That’s what really stands out about this film, it is beautifully shot and really showcases the director’s eye for detail. One really can see this during the Cinébal sequence where Freddie decides to go out to a ball all dressed in true 90’s fashion, definitely the most amusing scene of the film.

The thing that suffers here a bit, is the plot. While Xavier has created a visual and aural masterpiece filled with great shots, that is the problem. The film runs at 161 minutes, which in my opinion was too long for this story. The story and plot progression at times had to take breaks to showcase these beautiful shots. As beautiful as they were, they hindered the plot and made the film too long. Next time, Xavi baby, use a better a editor. That being said it is still definitely worth watching. The director does a great job of making a bleak Canadian winter full of the passion and colour of a summer day.

After Xavier Dolan’s win of Best Canadian Film at this year’s TIFF, the buzz is building that Laurence Anyways will become this year’s Canadian submission to the Academy Awards. Stylistically, Xavier proves with this film that he has the chops to match Denys Arcand or other great Canadian filmmakers. However, at only 23 years old, he still needs to learn a thing or two such as the importance of editing. Hopefully he doesn’t just end up being the “Hipster du jour”, relegated to the vintage clothing store like many of the fashions featured in his latest film…only time will tell.

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