Yves Saint Laurent has become the latest high-profile figure to fall victim to the curse of the Cannes biopic. A new film about the life of the French fashion designer, which premiered yesterday, shows Saint Laurent cruising public parks looking for gay men and indulging in orgies.
Saint Laurent, played by Gaspard Ulliel, is also seen accidentally killing his pet dog by leaving pills on the floor, which the animal licks.
Welcome to New York, a lightly fictionalised biopic about the 2011 sex scandal that engulfed the former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Grace of Monaco, the much-derided film starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly, have already attracted controversy.
Saint Laurent, directed by Bertrand Bonello, is one of two rival movies about the designer, who died in 2008.
The first, entitled Yves Saint Laurent, was sanctioned by Pierre Bergé, the designer’s partner, who granted its producers access to Saint Laurent’s archives.
Bergé’s outrage at the unauthorised Saint Laurent film was evident last year when he tweeted: “I hold the moral rights over YSL’s work ... A trial on the cards?”
Eric Altmayer, Saint Laurent’s producer, said: “We were very aware of his [Bergé’s] high temper and his extreme desire to keep control of everything to do with Saint Laurent, even to rewrite the story somehow after he died ... He tried to kill our project by all means: legally, financially.”
However, Altmayer and Bonello secured the support of Kering, the French retail giant that now owns the Yves Saint Laurent brand. They hope Bergé will change his opinion of their project.
“I think our film is much more touching and engaging than the official biopic,” said Altmayer. “Since our film was chosen to be part of the official selection in Cannes, I hope he thinks now he has no reason to go against us.”
Grace of Monaco, which premiered last week, has been panned by the critics and drawn criticism from the family of the princess, who died in 1982 following a car accident.
French privacy laws mean that Welcome to New York, starring Gérard Depardieu as the Strauss-Kahn character, will not be shown in French cinemas.