La belle époque Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: actors; script idea; 70s reenactment scenes; humor Cons: the film is not for viewers who avoid films about relationships “Cafe of Desires” / La belle époque

Genre drama, comedy
Directed by Nicolas Bedos
Cast: Daniel Auteuil (Victor Drumond), Fanny Ardant (Marianne Drumond), Guillaume Canet (Antoine), Doria Tillier (Margot), Pierre Arditi (Pierre), Denis Podalides (Francois), Michael Cohen (Maxim), Lizzie Brocher (Giselle) ) and etc.
Company Les Films du Kiosque, Pathé, Orange Studio
Year of release 2019 (in Ukraine 2020)
IMDb website

The film shows modern France. A company has opened there that, for a lot of money, promises its clients a trip to any era. This is not about a time machine, but about a realistic production that follows a certain scenario. To do this, the company creates a semblance of a film set: it designs costumes, installs lighting, hires actors and puts on a performance, following the will of the customer.

The main character of the film is an illustrator named Victor, who has long since retired. He has submitted to inevitable aging and cannot come to terms with new technologies that are replacing things that are familiar to him. When Victor has the opportunity to use the company’s services, he decides to move to 1974. For him, this was a wonderful time when people did not use gadgets, met people in cafes and felt free. It was then that Victor was young, inspired and in love with his future wife.


“Cafe of Desires” will certainly appeal to fans of French cinema, where comedy and drama can easily coexist with each other. From the first scenes, the film’s script ironizes marital relationships, raises family themes and shows how alienated a person can feel when he has finally said goodbye to his youth.


The author of the idea and the director was Nicolas Bedos (who directed the film Mr. & Mrs. Adelman). He managed to realize, perhaps not a new, but very interesting idea – if it is impossible to return to the past, then why not simply reproduce it in the smallest detail.


First, Nicolas Bedos shows all the problems and torments of the main character, and then invites him to escape to an alternative world. And here the most interesting part begins – will Victor be able to get used to the props, believe in the acting of the actors portraying hippies from the 70s, and again spend time with the girl with whom he was in love. She, like everyone else around her, is just an artist playing along with his obsessive nostalgia.


It seems that if “Cafe Wishes” was filmed in another country, the film would inevitably slide into a tearful melodrama. The French, on the other hand, play with the eternal themes of self-perception with amazing ease, make witty jokes about sentimentality and are not afraid to show what might be considered too revealing.


It turns out to be a good-natured movie about fatigue that needs to be put somewhere, while at the same time being able to return to your reality in time. The latter is the most difficult, and not only for the main character. There are several other characters in the film who are not at all carried away by the ordinary. For example, this is the founder of a company who is too absorbed in staging other people’s fantasies. As it turns out, not everyone finds it easy to accept that in ordinary life no one sticks to the script, and during conversations there is no team of operators working nearby, ready to dim the spotlights at the right moment.


“Cafe of Wishes” is unlikely to appeal to those who do not like films dedicated to relationships. However, the film is good for its plot and witty approach to melancholy moments. The film also features an excellent cast: Daniel Auteuil (BAFTA award winner) plays the main role, and with him Fanny Ardant, Guillaume Canet and Doria Tillier appear in the frame.


a soulful French movie about the desire to return the best moments of youth.

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