Nothing Is Celebratory in the Troubling, Long-Lost Celebration

An unsettling portrait of Yves Saint Laurent at the end of his line.

“It’s crazy an atheist could write such religious music.” So says industrialist Pierre Bergé about composer Gioachino Rossini at the end of Olivier Meyrou’s documentary Celebration, and it may be the key to everything preceding it. It also may not, since opacity is kind of the point in this look at the work behind Yves Saint Laurent’s final haute couture show in 2001. Celebration implies that Saint Laurent’s partner Bergé was the one running the show, which by all accounts is why the film has been suppressed since 2007. Beyond noting he’s the last couturier to still be running a fashion house they themselves originated, the film doesn’t give any context about Saint Laurent, but even going in cold it’s impossible not to be troubled by the fact that the man is clearly no longer all there. Rather than being an elegiac tribute, Celebration is constructed like a horror movie. Much of this comes from the warbling, often atonal electronic score by the late composer François-Eudes Chanfrault. He had primarily done horror films, most notably Alexandre Aja’s Haute Tension, and cuts to the seemingly causally-disconnected Saint Laurent in Celebration are often accompanied by spooky looping voices. Though a document of an ostensible celebration, Celebration is never celebratory, and maybe that’s the point. Sometimes it takes an atheist.

Not rated. Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.

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