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A scene from "Laurence Anyways"

3 out of 4 stars

Laurence Anyways
Directed by
Xavier Dolan
Melvil Poupaud, Suzanne Clément, Nathalie Baye, Monia Chokri

As in Heartbeats (2010), Xavier Dolan's preternaturally sophisticated second film, Laurence Anyways pivots on a birthday party. This one is also set in Dolan's native Montreal, but in the year of his birth, 1989, and has even more melancholy portent for the hero. Laurence, now 35 and a high-school teacher, does not feel like a man at all. After an attempted split, his girlfriend, Fred (Suzanne Clements), helps him become a woman. Their journey is gorgeous and fraught. Then it ends. Twist: Neither will ever be happy with another. Told from the year 1999, this drama – or melodrama – is a 165-minute meditation on timing and space, identity and sex, love and consequences. For all its dazzling flights of surrealishness, Laurence Anyways is heart-sickeningly believable.

9 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 13, Visa Screening Room (Elgin); 9 a.m., Sat., Sept. 15, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

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