Laurence Anyways (2012)
Laurence Anyways is a title that stands out for me, not because it’s the film I’ve loved the longest, but because it’s become retrospectively significant. As well as being the first Xavier Dolan film I saw and loved, I also watched it while researching and preparing for my interview at Curzon, demonstrating my well-refined procrastination skills in being able to get sidetracked for a full 164 minutes.
I’m a complete sucker for films about heartbreak and doomed relationships and Laurence Anyways effectively weaves that story arc while exploring the complexities of what it means to come out as transgender. In parallel to exploring the difficulties Laurence (Melvil Poupard) faces as she transitions, we’re also shown her and Fred’s (Suzanne Clément) tumultuous relationship as they try to cling onto their love as they experienced it before.
I was fully invested in the characters and their clear connection throughout, barely noticing the 3-hour-long runtime. You’re right there with them, figuring out and negotiating this new and unchartered territory. Even though you can see that they persistently hurt and grind one another down, you continue to root for them no matter how bleak the reality of their situation looks.
While the film is visually stunning – often taking on a music video quality that Dolan would continue to utilise in his later films – it never veers into style over substance. The command over the visual is just another layer than makes an already dense film even richer. The coloured clothes raining from the sky is still a sequence I remember being genuinely exhilarated by. I’m reluctant to re-watch it incase I don’t get the same feeling the second time round. Although masterfully handled, however, the film’s strength is in its balance, as the sensory pleasure derived from Laurence Anyways is never prioritised over telling the characters’ stories.
With echoes of both Fassbinder and Almodóvar, I couldn't believe such an accomplished film was made by a director who was only 23 years-old. While I’ve gone on to watch and enjoy the rest of Xavier Dolan’s films (especially Mommy), this will always be the one I have the biggest soft spot for.
[Heather McIntosh, Curzon Home Cinema]
Laurence Anyways is available to watch on Curzon Home Cinema, along with Xavier Dolan's entire filmography.