Laurence Anyways (★★★★ Empire review)

LawrenceSquareMontréal, 1987. Literature professor Laurence Alia (Melvil Poupard) stuns his girlfriend Frederique (Clément) by announcing that, at the age of 35, he intends to live the rest of his life as a woman. Understandably, this revelation puts a strain on their already tempestuous relationship, the ups and downs of which form the basis of Québecois writer-director Xavier Dolan’s third film, which combines dazzling visuals with raw emotional honety, and boasts one of the standout performances of the year from Clément. As the film progresses, and Laurence’s true self is set free, the stylised aspects become more pronounced, some that work as moments of pure cinema, others that resemble ‘80s pop videos – especially as the soundtrack includes cuts by Duran Duran, Visage and The Cure. Some may find Laurence Anyways overlong or over-indulgent, but those who like it will love it.

VERDICT An award winner in Cannes and Toronto, Dolan’s heartfelt film is a rare combination of operatic grandeur and emotional intimacy. ★★★★

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