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La Belle Époque

La Belle Époque is a sweet and inventive romantic comedy that deftly balances hearty laughs and heartwarming emotion.

Cartoonist Victor (Daniel Auteuil) and psychoanalyst Marianne (Fanny Ardant) have been together for more than forty years. He has grown a little too comfortable with his old-fogey status while she still has a lust for life and a low boredom threshold. Marianne eventually throws Victor out on the street and considers it a long overdue act of liberation.

Poster for the romantic re-enactment movie La Belle EpoqueThat is the moment that Victor accepts an offer to enjoy a free experience with Time Travellers, a company run by Antoine (Guillaume Canet). In a variation on Westworld, the company uses movie sets and actors to construct elaborate fictions for wealthy clients. You can live in Nazi-era Germany, dine with Marie Antoinette or get sozzled with Ernest Hemingway. Victor chooses to spend his time in 1974, at the café where he first met Marianne.

One of the joys of La Belle Époque is the central performance from Daniel Auteuil and the way he expresses Victor’s delight in having entered his past. The beard goes, the wardrobe improves and the twinkle returns to his eyes. The good old days have a bracing effect on Victor, especially as he starts to fall under the spell of Margot (Dora Tillier), who has been cast as the young Marianne.

Handsomely crafted, La Belle Époque cleverly works through the complications of blurring fact and fantasy. Set to a soundtrack of pop hits from the likes of Dionne Warwick and The Monkees, the film sometimes goes for easy laughs but the skilled ensemble cast ensures that the emotions are always true and touching. 

– Allan Hunter, Screen International


L’histoire de La Belle Époque de Nicolas Bedos est aussi dingue que casse-gueule. Antoine (Guillaume Canet) propose à des clients fortunés de vivre la période de leur choix en la reconstituant avec décors soignés et acteurs au cordeau.

Victor (Daniel Auteuil), dessinateur de BD passé de mode, vient de se faire virer de chez lui par sa femme, Marianne (Fanny Ardant). Le flash-back de son choix, ce sera un jour de 1974, celui où il a rencontré sa femme. Pour l’incarner, Antoine choisit sa chérie (Doria Tillier). Enfin, son ex-chérie. Qui joue si bien que Victor en tombe raide dingue pour de vrai. Confusion des sentiments et gros bazar en perspective. 

Force est de constater que Bedos est plus que doué : il est brillant. A 39 ans, le réalisateur a la maturité d’un sexagénaire, portant sur le couple et sur la société un regard à la fois tendre et désespéré. Chaque situation, chaque réplique font mouche et touche. Une véritable prouesse. 

– Christophe Carriere, L’Express

 

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