As we prepare for Thursday night’s screening of Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways, which will ask nearly three hours of our time and a suspension of much intent and reason, we might take with us some lessons learned at last week’s Cape Breton Film Series presentation, Safety Not Guaranteed: 1. Anything can happen; 2. Believing in beauty is the only thing that makes it possible; And 3. Safety is not, and never will be, guaranteed.
Sounds simple, right? And those who were with us last week might agree. Safety Not Guaranteed makes simple and sweet the very complicated and bitter twists of life. Isn’t that what great film making is all about?
Who knows. Maybe. Or maybe a film is meant to be a lengthy, visually stylistic opus of pain and uncertainty. Maybe only in that raw aching state can we achieve moments of true meaning and accidental happiness. Maybe we have to writhe in our cushioned seats to really appreciate why we’re sitting there.
We should find out Thursday, when Laurence Anyways arrives to dazzle us with sensual pleasures in slow motion and without obvious purpose. The film tells the story of Laurence (Melvil Poupard), who announces to his lover Frederique (Suzanne Clement) that he is a woman inside, and finally ready to live as one.
Fred is supportive at first, but emotional turmoil is exacerbated by growing social pressures and judgment. The two are driven apart, though as the story is carried over a ten-year period, they also drift back together, and continue to face the battles of love, lust, and just trying to get by.
The film’s stunning visual orgy of bodies and colours set to ’80s synth pop has left some critics desiring more—or, rather, less—from director Dolan in his third feature film. The challenge to us, I think, will not be to understand or to explain these repetitive motions, but to feel them and to let go of our desire for more. Or less.
So bring a friend, or a lover, and bring a snack, and settle in this Thursday to experience a beautiful world of great hair, great sex, and the grand oblivion of youth and ego. Check your own at the door, and see how it feels to become someone new.
Laurence Anyways plays Thursday night at 7pm at Empire Theaters Studio 10.