Xavier Dolan’s exhilarating and sumptuously mounted magnum opus Laurence Anyways is a ravishingly beautiful exploration of sexual fluidity, gender choices and transgender rights. Its lush and vibrant palette brimming with idiosyncratic energy and formal flamboyance, and extraordinary evocation of the topic with its myriad nuances, made this film a memorable companion piece to Almodóvar’s dazzling masterwork All About My Mother. And, that the Quebecoise wunderkind was hardly 23 when he made a work as fearless, daring and ambitious as this – in its stylistic abandon, thematic complexity, emotionally engrossing portrayal and sprawling 168 minute length – made this an even more astonishing achievement drawing comparisons with RW Fassbinder. The story follows, over the course of a decade – from the late 80s to the late 90s – the tumultuous journey of sexual transformation and liberation of Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) who, on his 35th birthday, reveals to his girlfriend Fred (Suzanne Clément) that he identifies himself as a woman. While he becomes a pariah to the heteronormative society around him – loosing his job as a university professor, facing hurdles to his promise as a talented writer, getting distanced from his conservative parents, bullied and beaten on the Montreal streets – a chance encounter with the lively Rosa family, his torrid on-off relationship with the passionate Fred who’s torn apart between denial and love, and immersion into poetry and literature, keeps him going. Offbeat narrative elements (including a dash of surrealism here and camp there), baroque visuals, vivid colour schemes, throbbing pop soundtrack, enthralling cocktail of a myriad emotions from deep pathos to moments of fleeting euphoria, and powerhouse performances – at once ferocious and heartbreaking – by Poupaud and Clément, made this a rare work of unhinged exuberance.
Director: Xavier Dolan
Genre: Drama/Romantic Drama