Mon Dieu, how I love a French film! The humor, the wine, the quick-witted candor – it all comes together in the new release feature film La Belle Époque.
On par with its predecessors, The Intouchables (2011) and Amelié (2001), La Belle Époque delivers an original take on the classic tale of love, loss, and redemption. Written and directed by Nicolas Bedos, the film follows the story of the self-sabotaging, disillusioned and highly talented cartoonist, Victor Drumond (Daniel Auteuil).
Dumped by his wife (Fanny Ardant), jealous of his son’s (Michaël Cohen) success and remaining stubbornly unemployed, Victor finds himself out on the street with no money and nowhere to go. Enter, well-meaning (if not debaucherous) entrepreneur, Antoine (Guillaume Canet). Antoine’s business is in recreating historical periods for wealthy clients to spend an evening playing the part of their heroes, whether they be virtuous or villainous. But Victor doesn’t want anything quite so extravagant. Instead, he asks to relive a specific day in 1974 – the day he met his wife.
What follows is a fresh perspective on love, marriage and the process of rediscovering one’s self. A unique approach to an age-old storyline, La Belle Époque reveals how sometimes it takes diving into your past to remember what truly matters to you in the present. Bedos proves that original ideas can still make it into scriptwriting, if only you know where to look (to the French, duh!).
A world within a world, the characters range from cynical, brash, and passionate, to boring, safe and sheltered. With each role laced in humor, the respective actors play their parts well. As Victor experiences his own character development, it is leading lady, Margot (Doria Tiller), who demonstrates flawless transformations from one character to the next.
Despite the fictitious journey taking the audience – and the cast – back to 1974, everything about La Belle Époque is real, relatable and honest. The film holds up a mirror to the audience, reflecting a transparent truth about relationships and how they can intertwine and unravel as imperceptibly as the ebb and flow of the tide.
Telling a unique, relatable and hilariously shameless tale, La Belle Époque outshines the predictably overcooked narrative that pervades so many of today’s Hollywood storylines. Are you listening, Hollywood scriptwriters, producers, directors and bankrollers? You should really take a leaf out of the French when it comes to filmmaking – they do it weird and they do it right.