My Golden Days (2015)

ARNAUD DESPLECHIN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

Original title:  Trois Souvenirs De Ma Jeunesse

France, 2015, , , , , , , , , , , , , .  Scenario and dialogue by Arnaud Desplechin, , Scenario consultant .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

After failing to set the world on fire with his English-language debut Jimmy P.director Arnaud Desplechin returns to the world of complicated French youth that made him so popular in the first place, even reuniting us with characters (or at least characters with the same names) from his first film My Sex Life.  After the first memory flashback of the (original French) title, about his mentally ill mother and his hatred of her,  returns to Paris after years in Tajikistan and is pulled aside by authorities who find him suspicious.   This initiates two more memories, one about a class field trip to Russia in which he performs a bit of espionage (and which is why there is more than one version of his passport floating around) and a longer recounting of his falling in love with a beautiful girl in college and the emotional ups and downs of their passion.  All the aesthetic strength of Desplechin’s best movies is present, and the acting and dialogue are terrific, but there is a Who Cares factor that nags throughout: it’s hard to imagine two newcomers better in lead roles than the two featured here, but the film does not equal the sum of its parts and never feels particularly special.  The elements that remind one of his previous films (the aforementioned debut as well as The Sentinel) and the touches of autobiography (like the aunt and her partner who raised him from childhood, featured in his film The Beloved) should make it feel like a part of his cinematic universe, but it never seems to stick.

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