There is a belief that is perpetuated in American society, even though we practice the exact opposite: To cultivate a love of things--material possessions--is to lead a life of emptiness. In L'amour Fou, the documentary that catalogues the enduring business and romantic partnership between Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, this belief is shattered by the concept that each possession tells a story, and is just as important to a life and a relationship as a person.
The meeting between Pierre and Yves took place, somewhat poetically, at the funeral of Christian Dior in 1957. Yves was only 21 years old when he took over the legendary couturier's line. As the lead designer under Dior before his death, Yves was trained to one day take over the house of Dior, but preparing for it versus actually doing it were two very different actions. To have that much pressure at such a young age only increased the sense of solemnity Yves already bore.
And yet, the prolific designer was able to pioneer a new era of fashion, one in which haute couture was nurtured and revitalized. In 1960, after Yves won a lawsuit against Dior for breach of contract, the designer felt the only thing to do was to start his own business with Pierre. This constant closeness to one another, rather than incite petty arguments or spotlight personality clashes, only served to heighten the love they felt for one another. It also gave Pierre a unique insight into Yves' depression. In the film, he notes, "I only saw Yves happy twice a year: After he put out a collection."
It was only when the couple got away from Paris that Yves seemed somewhat at peace. The duo owned houses in both Normandy and Morocco (a locale that would inspire Yves often throughout the 1970s). Even so, the unspoken demand for Yves to constantly surpass expectations took its toll, and he turned to the numerous illicit drugs available in that ambiguous decade called the 70s. The dependency became such a problem that Pierre moved out of their Paris apartment and separated from the love of his life in 1976.
While director Pierre Thoretton's method of slow pans and detailed shots is effective for revealing the genuine attachment and sentimentality Pierre has for his shared possessions with Yves, there are moments in the film when the emotion comes off as forced--like the viewer is being cued by certain contrivances. While this is generally how a movie, especially a documentary, is supposed to work, L'amour Fou fails in being subtle about that fact.
Thoretton, however, finds as perfect an ending as he can get from such a melancholy union by concluding the film with an epic Christie's auction in New York City. After it is over, Pierre finally appears to achieve some sort of catharsis by parting with the items (then again, who wouldn't feel catharsis from getting that kind of financial sum?).