Lucky old Coco Chanel with her rags-to-riches fairytale life (talk about biopic-friendly: taught to sew by nuns in an orphanage; scarred by the tragic death of her great love). Yves Saint Laurent might be a fashion legend up there with Chanel, but if this sluggish drama is anything to go by, we can live without his story. It picks up with Saint Laurent as a 21-year-old boy wonder (played brilliantly by French actor Pierre Niney), nervy and tortured by self-doubt. It’s 1957 and he’s the new head designer of France’s biggest fashion house, Christian Dior. A couple of years later, conscripted to fight in the Algerian war, he suffers a mental breakdown after bullying about his sexuality.
Enter Pierre Bergé – the businessman who became his boyfriend, bodyguard and business partner. Perhaps there’s a film to be made about their fascinating relationship. Saint Laurent battled coke addiction and depression, and it was Bergé who kept him from self-destructing. As a couple they split in 1976, but stayed close until Saint Laurent’s death in 2008. Sadly, this polite film, though touching in places, is so desperate not to offend, it’s the film equivalent of sensible shoes. Diehard fashionistas may disagree.