Laurence Anyways, the new film from prodigiously talented filmmaker Xavier Dolan is 160 minutes of pure emotion, telling of the resilience of love under the weight of the world. Heavy stuff, right? Well, yeah, Xavier Dolan isn’t exactly one for subtlety. The film follows the titular Laurence, a professor whose decision to have a sex-change puts huge strain on his relationship with the emotionally volatile Fred (short for Frederique, to save any confusion). The film chronicles their turbulent relationship over a period of ten years.
On paper, this film really should’ve been a disaster – restraint is a word Dolan seemingly knows nothing about, as he throws absolutely everything at the screen. It’s a risky approach, but one that definitely hits more than it misses here. Maybe that’s because Dolan’s bravura direction – everything from the performances to the shot compositions to the soundtrack are heightened beyond belief – is so assured. He obviously believes in himself. And it’s this assurance that makes Laurence Anyways such an impressive film. Even if it doesn’t always work (there’s about half an hour’s material that could be dropped entirely), there’s more than enough on screen to make Laurence Anyways an engrossing, exhilarating love story, even if it is a little rough around the edges.
- Matt Mansfield