Laurence Anyways is a 2012 Canadian romantic drama film written, edited, and directed by Xavier Dolan. The film competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival where Suzanne Clément won the Un Certain Regard Award for Best Actress. The film also won the Queer Palm Award at the festival.
The story of an impossible love between a woman named Fred (Frédérique) and a transgender woman named Laurence (then living as a man) who reveals her inner desire to become her true self: a woman. Set during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the story spans a decade, chronicling the doomed love of Fred and Laurence, as well as the trials and tribulations that they face.
Where Dolan's earlier film Heartbeats (2009) borrowed some of its style from the work of director Wong Kar-wai, the visual style of Laurence Anyways has been compared to late-career Stanley Kubrick in its contrast between a naturalistic, almost documentary-influenced way of shooting and Dolan's more visually lyrical passages.
At the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, the film won the award for Best Canadian Feature Film. The film also received ten nominations at the 1st Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Motion Picture, Best Direction for Dolan, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Poupaud, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Clément, and Best Screenplay for Dolan.
The film begins by introducing Laurence (Melvil Poupaud), a 30-year-old transgender woman living as a man, who is an award-winning novelist and literature teacher in Montreal. Laurence is very much in love with her girlfriend, the fiery and passionate Fred (Suzanne Clément). On the day of Fred's birthday, she reveals to Fred her biggest secret; she has felt for her entire life that she was born in the wrong body and says that she has been living a lie for so many years. She wishes to rectify her situation and restart her life as a woman. Fred accuses her of being gay and takes the news very hard.
They separate for a short time, but Fred arrives at the conclusion, much to the chagrin of her mother and sister, that she must be there for Laurence. Their romance resumes and Fred becomes Laurence's biggest supporter. Fred teaches Laurence how to do her makeup and buys her a wig. She urges Laurence to dress as her true self, in female clothing. Laurence shows up to work one day in a dress. All seemingly goes well until she is released from her position at the school due to the negative reception of her transformation. Fred falls into a state of depression and eventually leaves Laurence and moves away. Fred marries a man, Albert, and has a son named Leo.
Five years later, Laurence, although living with and romantically engaged with Charlotte, is still deeply in love with Fred. She stalks her regularly, often driving and parking outside of her house in Trois-Rivières. After publishing her book of poems, she sends a copy to Fred, who decodes the poems' secret message meant for her. She contacts Laurence, and the two meet and run away to the Isle of Black. However, the romantic getaway turns sour and the two argue. Fred reveals she was pregnant when Laurence revealed her gender identity, and Fred had an abortion. Fred's husband learns her whereabouts from Charlotte and Fred's relationship and life with him is shattered. Laurence leaves Fred in the night and the two do not speak for several years.
Whilst being interviewed for her biography, the interviewer inquires about Fred, after having listened to her story. She admits that she had recently reconnected with Fred, newly divorced, however their meeting did not go well. She tells the interviewer that she has chosen to age as a woman. The final scene shows the circumstances under which Fred and Laurence had initially met, on a commercial set, Laurence having been bet to talk to Fred.
Director Xavier Dolan was inspired to write Laurence Anyways upon hearing of the story of Luc Baillargé, who became Luce. At the time, Dolan was unaware his producer, Lyse Lafontaine, had been Baillargé's girlfriend and that they had a son, Mikaël. Lafontaine sought the consent of Baillargé and Baillargé's children before making the film.
Melvil Poupaud took the role of Laurence. Despite not being familiar with Dolan's filmography, Poupaud found Dolan to be an interesting character, and said he was hoping for such a role in his acting career.
Baillargé died of a heart attack before Laurence Anyways was completed and released. It is dedicated to her.
The film was released in the United Kingdom by Network Releasing. It was theatrically released on 30 November 2012 and on DVD on 25 March 2013.
The film was released theatrically in the United States on 28 June 2013 by Breaking Glass Pictures and was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 8 October 2013.
The film received mostly positive reviews. It currently holds an 83% percent of positive reviews in the film critics website Rotten Tomatoes, with the general consensus being "Passionate and powerfully acted, Laurence Anyways sometimes strains to achieve its narrative ambitions (and fill its three-hour running time), but ultimately succeeds." The average rating is 7/10.