Lucky old Coco Chanel with her biopic-friendly life. (She was taught to sew by nuns in an orphanage and scarred by the tragic death of her great love.) If this sluggish drama is anything to go by, fashion legend Yves Saint Laurent has a personal story we can live without. 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 house, Christian Dior. A couple of years later, conscripted to fight in the Algerian War, he suffers a mental breakdown after getting bullied about his sexuality.
Enter Pierre Bergé (Guillaume Gallienne), the businessman who became his boyfriend, bodyguard and industry 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. But sadly, this polite film, though touching in places, is so desperate not to offend, it’s the equivalent of sensible shoes—comfortable but bland. Only die-hard fashionistas may disagree.
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