Laurent Pierre Marie Boutonnat is a French composer and film and music video director, best known as the songwriting partner of Mylène Farmer and the director of moody, provocative and literature-inspired music videos.
Laurent Boutonnat directed his first film, Ballade de la Féconductrice, at the age of 17, while the film itself is rated 18. It would later be screened off competition at the Festival de Cannes. The movie contains multiple graphic elements that would characterize Boutonnat's provocative style.
In 1984, having composed a song called "Maman a tort" with Jérôme Dahan for which they needed a female singer, they started auditioning, and Mylène Farmer, a young student in acting, eventually showed up. Boutonnat and Farmer then started an artistic collaboration which goes on to this day. While Farmer had limited songwriting input on her first album, she thereafter took the habit of writing all the lyrics while Boutonnat composes the music and arranges it.
Boutonnat also took up Farmer's visual image. He started directing long, big-budget, literature-inspired music videos that took more the shape of short films. His style was widely recognized, especially thanks to the videos "Libertine" and "Pourvu qu'elles soient douces" in which the action takes place during the eighteenth century. Other videos like those of "Ainsi soit je..." were appreciated for their simplicity and their visual language. Whether they were big productions or simple projects, all of Boutonnat's videos that he created during that time contained many references to literature and art, like Farmer in her lyrics. Boutonnat is sometimes considered to have revolutionized French music videos, including art and cinematic imagery in them and therefore not limiting them to simple commercial tools.
Boutonnat's videos for Farmer contained many nude and sexual provocative scenes which forced the TV stations to ban them from airplay. In the early 90's, at the end of the promotion of Farmer and Boutonnat's hugely successful album L'Autre..., Farmer decided to start working with different music video directors. Boutonnat remained her songwriting partner. The last video he directed for her at that time was "Beyond My Control", banned from daytime TV airplay for violence and sex.
In 1994, Boutonnat directed his first feature film, Giorgino, based on an idea he had had for many years. Starring Farmer, Jeff Dahlgren and Joss Ackland, the film was a major critical and commercial flop at the time, even if more recent reviews of the film are less hostile with the film after it achieved cult status with its DVD release. Personally shaken by the disaster, Boutonnat and Farmer decided to part ways. Farmer exiled herself in the USA where she started writing new lyrics and discovering new music. Shortly afterwards, she reconciled with Boutonnat when she asked him to join her to write the music. The resulting album was a success. The corresponding music videos were not directed by Boutonnat as agreed by both.
After a string of hugely successful albums, Farmer and Boutonnat wrote the first two hugely successful albums of Alizée, the first of them beating sales records. Boutonnat also directed her videos, which were far more commercial and TV-friendly than those he usually directs.
In 2001, Boutonnat directed his first video for Farmer since "Beyond My Control", her hit single "Les Mots" that she recorded with Seal. The video contains many references to Le radeau de la méduse, the famous painting by Géricault.
In 2007, Boutonnat finally directed Jacquou le Croquant, his first feature film since 1994. The film received mixed reviews and met a modest commercial success, but it was nonetheless nominated for the César of the Best Costumes. As for Farmer, she recorded the theme song, "Devant soi", for the end credits.
The songwriting partnership between Farmer and Boutonnat is still going strong, with each of their albums having huge success in French-speaking countries.
In December 2010, Farmer released her eighth album, Bleu Noir, without the collaboration of Boutonnat. The album marks the only time that Farmer and Boutonnat did not work together in Farmer's music career. The couple reunited in 2012 composing together all the songs for the album Monkey Me.