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Fashion god Yves Saint Laurent gets a respectful cinematic memorial in visual artist Pierre Thoretton’s “L’amour fou,” a sort-of authorized bio primarily told by business and life partner Pierre Berge. Shy on the celebrity-gawking (and celebrity input) that marks many fashion docus, and neither gossipy nor an objective appreciation of his impact and legacy, pic is a successful portrait on its own terms, save one: It’s unlikely to excite much theatrical interest. Tube sales prospects look strong.

Running thread is Berge’s decision to auction off the couple’s remarkable art collection, which allows us to appreciate them as connoisseurs with wide-ranging, impeccable taste. (We also admire their gorgeous homes.) But Berge never explains why he’s chosen to sell it all (admitting Saint Laurent wouldn’t have done so if their fates were reversed). Berge is only discreetly forthcoming about the subject’s personal foibles, and occasional professional failures go unmentioned. Lack of commentary from fellow designers or fashion historians means viewers who don’t already understand Saint Laurent’s enormous role in the industry’s great postwar changes are out of luck. Archival clips chronicle the fruits of his workaholic labor.

L’amour fou

France

  • Production: A Les Films du Lendermain, Les Films de Pierre production in association with France 3 Cinema. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Kristina Larsen, Hugues Charbonneau. Executive producer, Larsen. Directed by Pierre Thoretton. Screenplay, Thoretton, Eve Guillou.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Leo Hinstin; editor, Dominique Auvray; music supervisor, Elise Luguern. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 12, 2010. Running time: 103 MIN.
  • With: With: Pierre Berge, Betty Catroux, Loulou de la Falaise, Jack Lang.
  • Music By: