Laurence Anyways

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23-year-old writer/director Xavier Dolan (Heartbeats) returns to the screen with this strikingly provocative, boldly unconventional love story set in 1990s Montreal. A man, Laurence (Melvil Poupaud, Time to Leave), has just told his girlfriend, Fred (Suzanne Clément, I Killed My Mother), that he wants to become a woman. What follows is a tumultuous, decade-long odyssey during which the couple fights passionately to salvage their relationship. In spite of the odds and in spite of each other, they confront the prejudices of their friends, ignore the council of their families, and brave the phobias of the society they offend. At first, Fred believes they can continue being a couple as they always have. But as the reality of the situation emerges, their bond is tested in ways they never believed possible. A teacher, Laurence encounters problems at work, his family doesn’t readily accept his transition, and Fred questions whether he really is the same person she’s always loved. Propelled by exhilarating performances from Poupaud and Clément, Laurence Anyways is as epic visually as it is in scope, rendered with Dolan’s signature, swooning panache. A monumental tale about relationships and identity, this is a story of impossible love that once experienced, can never be fully relinquished. (Dir. by Xavier Dolan, 2012, Canada/France, in French with subtitles, 161 mins., Not Rated, Breaking Glass Pictures) Digital