Victor Drumont (Daniel Auteuil) is a 70-year-old cartoonist. He no longer draws cartoons, because he does not understand and does not accept the new world, and the newspaper in which he worked has gone online, and there are no need for cartoons. He has a bad relationship with his wife Marianne (Fanny Ardant), to whom he has been married for forty years. Their son is a successful businessman and producer who runs a media firm. The son has a close and trusting relationship with Marianna, but the son annoys Victor: with all these stupid gadgets, fashion trends and other nonsense.
Victor’s constant dissatisfaction with everything in the world led to the fact that Marianne was finally fed up with it, after which she first began to mock her husband, and then completely kicked him out of the house – right in his pajamas.
Victor was taken in by his old friend and former employer Francois (Denis Podalydes): he has a small bachelor apartment. Francois goes to Marianne’s psychoanalysis sessions and sleeps with her at the same time, only Victor does not know about it.
In order to somehow cope with his depressive state, Victor decides to use the certificate that his son gave him. The fact is that a childhood friend of his son Antoine (Guillaume Canet) organized a company that allows customers to sort of travel through time. The client orders a historical date, Antoine recreates this era in the pavilion, and the client spends one day in it – well, or several days, if he is ready to pay big money for it.
Victor has a certificate for one day. He turns to Antoine’s firm and orders the exact date: May 16, 1974, Lyon, a small cafe where he once met Marianne.
Antoine will personally control this plot: he has known Victor since childhood, he helped him a lot in his time and Antoine wants to do everything in the best possible way. The role of Marianne will be played by Antoine’s best actress – Margot (Doria Tillier): Antoine himself and Margot have an incredibly complicated relationship from the “love – hate” series.
Nicolas Bedos is a screenwriter, actor and composer, and more recently also a director. His first film “He and She”, where the main roles were played by Nicolas himself and his wife Doria Tillier, was well staged, but did not hook me too much, and I had a lot of complaints about the script there.
In the new film, Bedos himself no longer plays, he acted here as a screenwriter, director and composer. Doria Tillier in the new film plays one of the main roles.
I liked Belle Epoque much more than He and She. The film is noticeably more coherent and witty in the script, and looks much more interesting than the previous film.
Some reviewers write that the introductory part before the recreation of the “warm tube France of the seventies” was boring, but I completely disagree with this. On the contrary, it was very interesting to watch the crisis in the relationship between Victor and Marianne, especially since they are played by such outstanding actors as Daniel Auteuil and Fanny Ardant.
Victor does not accept this modern world, which, in turn, does not accept him, so all that remains for him is to grumble, grumble and demonstrate to everyone around him how much he does not like everything they do.
Marianna, on the contrary, is open to everything new, young at heart and cannot stand Viktor’s grumbling – it seems to her that next to him she is aging much faster.
The idea of a company that recreates the desired era for people for a lot of money is good in and of itself, and it’s done great. And here all this looks quite reliable: it is clear that Antoine’s company could not provide for everything to the smallest detail, therefore the paint is coming off in some places, and instead of the ceiling of the cafe there is a hole where the lighting fixtures are placed. This is all clearly shown.
But clients are well aware that this is all a reconstruction that cannot fully correspond to the original. They draw this original in their imagination, and the reconstruction simply spurs these memories.
Antoine, the head of the renovation company, who personally controls all stages of the project, was excellently played by Guillaume Canet. Moreover, I am Canet, and this is a well-known actor and director in France, I saw him in the title role only in the film “Forever Young” directed by him, where he mocked himself and his own family (he is married to Marion Cotillard) so much that, in my look, in this he even intercepted the palm from Tina Fay, who in “Studio 30” mocked herself so much that she already wanted to say: “Enough, stop as much as possible?!” (However, the chic Alec Baldwin also got no less there.)
Here Kane is really good! His Antoine is somewhat hysterical, choleric, but at the same time really cool and charming, and their relationship with Margot is something so nuclear that for me this couple even sometimes overshadowed the excellent plot with Victor and his return to the past. Yes, and Doria Tillier, Margo, here is just great. I liked Tillie in “He and She”, but here – just the brightest character, although there were enough excellent actors besides her.
That very return to the past by the director was done flawlessly. Such memories of the “France we lost”, in which everyone continuously smoked, drank and fucked, in a word, they did almost the same thing as now, only without political correctness, migrants and turn-down collars … Well, except for smoking now have become an order of magnitude smaller, thank God.
I really liked the fact that Victor falls in love with Margot, who plays Marianne, and he falls in love with Margot, the actress. For some reason, he thinks that it is the hired actress who has feelings for him – for him, the old fart, who paid money for people around in the pavilion to act out scenes from his youth and portray some kind of feelings. Although, and this is a subtle point, Margot’s main viewer is Antoine, who watches her from the director’s chair and admires the way she plays – for him, Antoine, of course, and not for Victor. And how cool and neat the scene was played out for Victor, where everything is explained to him on the fingers.
But for Victor, this was also an important shock and an important lesson. And that leads to the best scene in the movie, when Marianne herself appears at the re-enactment of the moment they met. Fanny Ardant is absolutely gorgeous here. And this is completely her episode, Daniel Auteuil only plays along with him, although he also does it absolutely wonderfully. They both understood something about themselves and about each other, they realized that one cannot live by memories alone.
Great movie, just great. Subtle, elegant, witty, masterfully choreographed and absolutely wonderfully played. The director in the film always plays a huge role (when, of course, we are not talking about purely commercial crafts), but here it is just a combination of the skill of the director and the performance of excellent actors, and both duets – Auteuil-Ardant and Canet-Tillier – are absolutely wonderful. Plus, the script: unlike the previous film, it is much better thought out and gives little reason to find fault with something.
In general, Nicolas Bedos frankly pleased. Clearly growing both as a director and as a screenwriter. Don’t miss this movie, it’s worth watching in my opinion.
Belle Epoque / La Belle Époque movie meaning
Directed by: Nicolas Bedos Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Guillaume Canet, Doria Tillier, Fanny Ardant, Pierre Arditi, Denis Podalydes, Mikael Cohen, Jeanne Arenet, Bruno Raffaelli
Worldwide gross: $13 million
Tragicomedy, France-Belgium, 2019, 115 min.