December 21, 2018 by admin
THE first scene of Xavier Dolan’s movie Laurence Anyways is the first part of the script that he wrote. It follows a figure walking down the street, a woman shot from behind.
What we see is how she is seen: heads turn, people look into the camera, and the expressions on their faces are varied and ambiguous. It’s the first of many scenes in this vivid, lengthy, languorous yet hectic film in which we are made aware of the impact of the gaze.
Dolan, a young French-Canadian filmmaker, is a multi-hyphenate on a grand scale. He’s an actor, writer, director and producer, whose first feature, How I Killed My Mother, was screened in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2009, when he was only 20. Laurence Anyways, his third movie, is the first in which he does not appear.
The film takes place in Montreal, in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s the story of Laurence Alia (Melvil Poupaud), a writer and academic who begins to realise that he can no longer deny his true self, his female identity. The opening sequence shows us Laurence, dressed as a woman, the subject of public scrutiny.
For that scene, Dolan says, ”We had this great extras casting director, who suggested faces. And we wanted to have true, human faces, not preppie people who just wanted a headshot.” He found the first person in this sequence of faces, he adds, when he was having breakfast at McDonald’s. He saw a young man with green eyes, and asked him if he’d like to be in a movie that was shooting.
The extras weren’t seeing the figure of Laurence, of course, he says, they were staring into the lens, watching a camera crew pass by, ”and I guess they were intimidated. And that’s sort of what we were looking for, because they’re intimidated by the vision of a woman who’s walking down the street.”
There’s another scene, about the power of the look, in which the subject is Laurence’s intense, volatile girlfriend, played by Suzanne Clement, who is having a good deal of trouble coming to terms with the new identity of the person she knows and loves. It takes place at a costume ball, and it’s filmed with delirious, tactile detail. Dolan wanted her character to be having a good time, he says, but the sequence itself is about delusion, about how she wants to be seen rather than what is actually taking place. ”This bubble, this dream sequence, it’s a fantasy, she’s not wearing that dress, she’s not being looked at that way. It demonstrates what she is seeking. She’s seeking attention, but she doesn’t have it.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.
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