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5 Fabulously Trippy and Delicious Scenes from ‘Saint Laurent’ (aka That Other Queer French Film Chosen For Oscar Eligibility)

5 Fabulously Trippy and Delicious Scenes from 'Saint Laurent' (aka That Other Queer French Film Chosen For Oscar Eligibility)

Many were likely
surprised and/or disappointed when France submitted “Saint
Laurent” for Foreign Language
Oscar consideration over somewhat notorious critical darling “Blue
is the Warmest Color.” We
wrote about the turn of events
and noted that while “Blue”’s impending lack of Academy recognition
is unfortunate, at least France opted for another queer title to fill the void. 

Though arguably a
chillier film, “Saint Laurent” is, in fact, queerer than most anything
you’d find released through an American studio. Its heady atmosphere and
elegiac, tense scenes make the film incredibly sexy, and the impressionistic,
brush stroke biopic style makes for a more experimental-than-average viewing

Audiences may not be
as familiar with “Saint Laurent,” but don’t let your jilted “Blue” feelings keep you from
seeing this unique take on a fashion genius’s most intensely creative decade.
To whet your appetite, we’ve selected five wonderfully strange, trippy, and
sensual scenes that caught our attention. Read on (but beware, spoilers lie
ahead) and embrace the fashionable and fierce “Saint Laurent:” 

Dance Floor Seduction:

Though not an
explicitly queer scene, a dance floor interlude early on in the film forges the
indestructible bond between Yves (Gaspard Ulliel) and one of his ever-present
model muses, the icy blond Betty Catroux (a very natural Aymeline Valade). As
she tosses her stick-straight mane back and forth, dancing on her own but aware
that she commands attention, Yves gets up from his banquette and approaches
her. “I want you to model for me,” he whispers to her from behind. “I can’t,”
she replies. “I’m modeling for Chanel.” “I want you to model for me,” he says
again, and again comes the reply, “I can’t.” They go back and forth several
more times, light-headed from champagne and falling into each other, both
giving in to a shared sense of admiration and desire. It’s a woozy, funny, and
lively scene, one that makes both characters immensely likable. And for the
somehow unknowable reason that these things do, it stuck with me. 

Closeted Sadomasochism

Far more daring and
strange is our introduction to the sex life of Yves and longtime
romantic/business partner Pierre Bergé (Jérémie Renier).
The morning after a party at their pad, Pierre lures Yves into their bedroom
closet, saying there is a gift inside, before shutting the doors on his lover.
Yves bangs on them for a moment, asking to be let out, but then quiets. Pierre
undoes his robe before unlatching the closet and sitting back on the bed,
naked. Yves whimpers from inside; “It’s open,” Pierre responds. The doors open
and Yves emerges in the buff as well. He walks to Pierre who grabs him by the
ass admiringly and then shoves him onto the bed. It is a surprising and sexy
scene that indicates the couple’s penchant for S&M-style escapades. Frank
but not explicit, we see enough to know that these guys are into each other and
into exploration. 

Pill-Popping Puppy

Though Yves Saint
Laurent may not be the most relatable or friendly on-screen presence, you’re
bound to fall in love with his adorable dog(s). Never has a film immortalized
the snuffling, compact cuteness of the french bulldog to this degree; never has
a film depicted a puppy overdose, either. As Yves and lover Jacques de Bascher (the
always hunky Louis Garrel) engage in a steamy mouth-to-mouth exchange of
narcotics, the puppy, named Moujik, discovers a container of spilled
blue-and-red pills on the floor and begins to lap them up one by one. Though
humorous at first, the scene takes on a far more sinister tone when Yves wakes
up and seems not to notice his dog furiously panting on the floor. A reminder
of the film’s sober examination of substance abuse and self-harm, the scene
traverses a narrow bridge of absurdity between high comedy and devastating
drama. (As a side note, director Bertrand Bonello assured the press of the
dog’s safety: “The dog is very fine now. He’s living in the country. He’s very

Sex Swing

When Jacques and Yves
first meet at a night club, the sultry lothario takes our protagonist back to
his apartment. What should they find but a leather sex swing hanging
precariously from the ceiling; Yves is clearly taken aback, but the tension
(still unbroken) between the two men, combined with the overtly sexual set dressing,
makes the viewer ache for something to happen. Things do happen and the two men
become involved, but the sex swing does not reappear…until it does. In yet
another booze-influenced scene, Yves lays back on Jacques’ couch and watches as
the beginnings of an orgy spring up around him. Not until the camera pulls back
for an overhead shot do we notice a leather-clad man–legs spread,
exposed–trussed up in the swing. The image is hot and fun, but more
importantly it serves as yet another reminder that this film likely could not
have been produced in the U.S. (and received recognition). The display of
sexual variety is thrilling and anti-puritanical in the best way.

The Final Runway

It’s exactly what it
sounds like–one of the final scenes in the film and the last we see of Yves’
incredible clothes (which are prominent throughout)–and yet it is filmed with
such panache that it cannot be reduced to words. Edited into a mondrian-style,
split frame extravaganza, the viewer sees everything all at once. Backstage,
the catwalk, the awed audience, and Yves himself giving the models a once-over
as they walk on stage: it is all there to devour. With an operatic aria soaring
in the ether and a cascade of glistening, colorful garments delighting the eye,
one cannot help but feel overwhelmed. This is the end of an era for YSL and the
end of a long, ultimately fulfilling film. There’s no way around it: this
runway is to die for.

Though I would have
loved to have seen “Blue” recognized, particularly in a possible best actress bid for
Adele Exarchopoulos, Saint Laurent is a worthy queer replacement. An
expansive biopic, a glamorous, lusty melodrama, and a very queer representation
of the late fashion designer, it is a film experience you won’t soon forget.


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