Laurence Anyways (2012)

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Released 8-May-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer-Theatircal Trailer (2:50)
Trailer-Four Directors Suite Trailers (6:40)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 161:10
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (97:24) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Xavier Dolan
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Melvil Poupaud
Suzanne Clément
Nathalie Baye
Monia Chokri
Susan Almgren
Yves Jacques
Sophie Faucher
Magalie Lépine Blondeau
Catherine Bégin
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Noia


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Laurence Anyways is Canadian Xavier Dolan's third feature film. At 23 years-of-age this in itself is quite remarkable, it's even more so when you consider that all three (including his debut film I Killed My Mother and the follow-up, Heartbeats) are all critically-favoured. Laurence Anyways continues Dolan's independent style of filmmaking, and has enjoyed favourable reviews with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 82% and a Metacritic rating of 73 out of 100. The film competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Actress Suzanne Clément won the Un Certain Regard Award for Best Actress and the film was awarded with the Queer Palm Award. The film won the best Canadian Feature Film Award at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

     The synopsis of Laurence Anyways, according to its website, tells the story of an impossible love between Frédérique (Suzanne Clément) and her long-term boyfriend Laurence (Melvil Poupaud), a man who reveals his inner desire to become his true self: a woman. Set during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the story spans a decade, chronicling the doomed love of Fred and Laurence, as well as the trials and tribulations that they face.

     The film begins by introducing Laurence, an average 35-year-old man, who is an award-winning novelist and literature teacher in Montreal. He is very much in love with his girlfriend, the fiery and passionate Frédérique. On the day of his birthday, he reveals to Fred his biggest secret: he has felt for his entire life that he was born in the wrong body and says that he has been living a lie. He wishes to rectify his situation and restart his life as a woman. Fred accuses him of being gay, and takes the news hard. They separate for a short time, but she arrives at the conclusion, much to the chagrin of her mother and sister, that she must be there for Laurence. Their romance resumes and Fred becomes Laurence’s biggest supporter. She teaches Laurence how to do her makeup and buys her a wig. She urges Laurence to dress as her true self, in female clothing. Laurence shows up to work one day in a dress. All seemingly goes well until she is released from her position at the school due to the negative reception of her transformation. Fred falls into a state of depression and eventually leaves Laurence and moves away. She marries a man named Albert (David Savard), and has a son named Leo.

     Laurence, although living with another woman named Charlotte (Magalie Lépine-Blondeau), is still deeply in love with Fred. Laurence stalks Fred regularly, often driving and parking outside of her house in Three-Rivers. After publishing her book of poems, Laurence sends a copy to Fred, who decodes the secret message within meant for her. Fred contacts Laurence, and the two meet and run away to the Isle of Black. However, the romantic getaway turns sour and the two argue. It is revealed that Fred was pregnant when Laurence confessed her true identity, but Fred had an abortion. Albert learns of Fred’s whereabouts from Charlotte, which damages Fred’s relationship with Albert beyond repair. Laurence leaves Fred in the night and the two do not speak for several years. Whilst being interviewed for her biography, the interviewer asks Laurence about Fred. Laurence admits that she had recently reconnected with Fred, now divorced, however their meeting did not go well. Laurence concludes by telling the interviewer that she has chosen to age as a woman.

     The final scene shows Laurence and Fred’s first encounter – on the set of a commercial shoot. After the shoot wraps, Laurence approaches Fred because of a bet and asks her out on a date.

     Laurence Anyways is a long film. At over 160 minutes, I felt that some scenes dragged on, but it does feature an academy ratio (fullscreen transfer at 1:33:1), making the many scenes between Laurence and Fred seem more intimate, and a great soundtrack that is an homage to 80s and 90s pop music (the film is set in the 1990s) with original music score by Noia.

     Touted as an epic story of love in transformation, as mentioned, Laurence Anyways has received favourable critical consensus, but unfortunately for me, I just can't get over the fact that, in my mind, love is about the other person in any relationship and you have to sort yourself out first before you can properly love someone else. So sadly, this didn't appeal to me, but it may appeal to you.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Laurence Anyways contains a distinctive visual style, possible in homage to the period it is set in and the soundtrack, which is the late 1980s, early 1990s. It has been compared to a long music video, and I believe that is an apt way to describe the look of the film.

     The aspect ratio is 1:33:1 fullscreen, so it is not 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions (this means that you will notice black bars to the left and right of the image whilst viewing the film on your widescreen television).

     The average bitrate is 5.86 m/b per sec, which is average for a DVD transfer.

     The colour timing sometimes is accentuated to emphasise primary colours, mainly red and blue.

     Apart from the slight film grain, due to the film being shot on 35mm film, there are no film or video artefacts.

     Subtitles are available in English, in yellow or alternate white. The default is yellow, but at least we get a choice!

     The RSDL change occurs at 97:24, during a scene transition, so it is not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The soundtrack features classic pop tunes such as Bette Davis' Eyes by Kim Carnes, Fade to Grey by Steve Strange and Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode.

     The main audio track is a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps.

     Dialogue is clear and synchronised (please note that some dialogue is in English!).

     Original music by Noia is influenced by 80s and 90s pop music and also classical music.

     The surround channel mix, when supporting the soundtrack, can be lively. It mainly uses the front three speakers (left, middle and right).

     The subwoofer comes to life, highlighting low-end frequencies, during the musical soundtrack portions of the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (2:50)

     The original theatrical trailer.

Four Directors Suite Trailers (6:40)

     Four Directors Suite trailers are included, with the first two being director Xavier Dolan's first two feature films. These can be played individually or sequentially and are, in order: I Killed My Mother (1:43), Heartbeats (1:10), Lars Von Trier's Melancholia (2:07) and Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon A Time in Anatolia (1:40).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region-free United Kingdom DVD includes an additional French Dolby Surround 2.0 audio track and a 13-minute interview with Suzanne Clément and Melvil Poupaud. The United Kingdom version of the film is the best available, but with only two extra features than the Region 4 release I would say it's not enough to persuade local fans of the film to bypass the local Australian product.

Summary

     Laurence Anyways balances messages of hope and despair, relationships that are functional and dysfunctional and ultimately, I believe, tells us that we might be able to get what we want, but not what we need.

     Xavier Dolan's third film carries over his auteuristic style, with its unique visuals, pop-influenced soundtrack and intense themes. If you are familiar with I Killed My Mother and Heartbeats, you'll no doubt enjoy this film too.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Saturday, August 03, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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