Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Xavier Dolan Says 'Transsexuality Is a Metaphor' in New Film 'Laurence Anyways'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Xavier Dolan Says 'Transsexuality Is a Metaphor' in New Film 'Laurence Anyways'

Article excerpt

Dolan film uses transsexuality as a metaphor


TORONTO - In Montreal phenom filmmaker Xavier Dolan's new feature, "Laurence Anyways," a handsome teacher bravely reveals to his girlfriend of two years that he wants to be a woman.

While the ensuing drama details the struggles of transsexuality, Dolan notes the French-language film represents all couples who struggle with changing identities in relationships.

"Transsexuality is a metaphor for authenticity in a couple," the 23-year-old writer-director said at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, where "Laurence Anyways" won the best Canadian feature prize.

"From that moment which succeeds the honeymooning, the teenage years of love ... where you have to come off as who you really are and expect from the person facing you that she will respect you for that person and that you will respect her for who she is.

"That's a make or break for a lot of couples."

Opening Friday in Toronto, "Laurence Anyways" stars Melvil Poupaud as the eponymous protagonist, who surprises beau Fred (Suzanne Clement) with news that he feels like he was born to be a woman.

Fred is supportive and encourages Laurence to begin wearing women's clothing, both in his personal life and on the job, which upsets the local parents' group and ministry of education in Montreal.

As Laurence's life takes a dramatic turn, so too does his relationship with Fred, and the film follows their decade-long journey to connect through his transition in the 1990s.

Co-stars include Monia Chokri, who was also in Dolan's 2010 romantic comedy "Heartbeats" ("Les amours imaginaires"), which won the Regards Jeunes Prize at the Cannes film festival. It was his second feature after the 2009 personal parent-son drama "I Killed My Mother" ("J'ai tue ma mère"), which won three awards at Cannes.

"What I mostly see that connects these films is that they're all about impossible love," Dolan said in an interview in a Toronto hotel room, wearing his signature horn-rimmed glasses, his curly pompadour more tame than usual.

"Impossible love between a teenager and his mom, impossible love between two friends and that ... beautiful stranger that shows up, and then impossible love between two crazy lovers in the '80s or '90s that have great expectations for their lives that are compromised by honesty and request of authenticity from the man in the couple."

Dolan conceived the film idea while shooting "I Killed My Mother," when a wardrobe assistant revealed that her ex-boyfriend told her he wanted to become a woman. …

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