[Editor's Note: The FYC series brings together all Film Experience contributors to highlight our favorite fringe Oscar contenders. Here's Glenn Dunks on Xavier Dolan's latest]
Anybody who knows me knows I have been trumpeting Xavier Dolan’s trans epic Laurence Anyways since I saw it back in January. I experienced a lot of emotions during this gloriously decadent and painfully intimate affair on the big screen (as one should expect from a three-hour movie). Yet what caught me most off guard was the romanticism with which it painted images through costume. Oh sure, Dolan’s previous films had a way with the fashions – the suburban chic duds of I Killed My Mother and the hipster vintage of Heartbeats - but never had their colours felt so radical, their intent so cutting, their stories so vivid.
So many of my lasting memories of Laurence Anyways rotate around the clothes. In fact, the first thing we see of our lead character are the clothes. There’s the symbolic baby blue business attire with hot pink accentuated shoulders in the opening scene. There’s the billowing aubergine purple coat that threatens to consume the entire screen. There’s the paperclips as fingernails. And then, of course, there’s the film’s centrepiece sequence as the divine Suzanne Clément struts into a new wave ball to the throbbing beat of “Fade to Grey” by Visage. As her black and white spider-cape is removed to reveal a body-hugging metallic dress she joins revellers outfitted in the finest 1980s designer wear. It’s a room full of gigantic pink bows, lemon yellow princess dresses, puffy crimson floor-length gowns and stylish tuxedos with visor accessories. That scene deserves a nomination alone.
Credited to both François Barbeau and Dolan himself (ever the multi-hyphenate), the two won a Canadian Genie for their work (alongside the equally dazzling make-up). I’m not sure if the Academy are entirely up to handing out nominations to minimally-released 3-hour foreign-language films about the journey of one person from man to woman, but if ever a branch was to go out on a limb it’d be the costumers. The work of Barbeau and Dolan is inspiring and inspired in equal measure. The costumes are lux and quirky, singular and sprawling. Much like the entire film, really. Laurence Anyways just isn’t Laurence Anyways without them and when a film feels so defined by its costume work, the Academy should pay attention.