The nostalgia Not old fashioned. Not even the pandemic has been able to with one of the star themes in the last decade. The Belle Epoque It should have hit theaters in the spring of 2020, but its theatrical release was left up in the air with the closing of theaters. Three years later, Prime Video brings back a charming French comedy that won three César Awards (for best original screenplay, artistic direction and supporting actress, the eternal Fanny Ardant) and was seen by more than a million viewers in theaters in the neighboring country.
The movie of Nicholas Bedos proposes to the viewer a journey through time in search of lost love through a comedy that talks about life and its disappointments, the passage of time and how feelings fade. Daniel Auteuil (a brilliant reason), Guillaume Canet (double lives) and Doria Tillier (Nothing to hide) accompany Ardant in a story that includes numerous nods to Italian cinema of the 1960s and 1970s.
The Belle Epoque tells the story of Victor, a disillusioned sexagenarianwho sees her life turn upside down the day a brilliant businessman offers her a new kind of attraction: Antoine’s company offers its clients the opportunity to plunge back into a time of their choosing. Víctor decides to relive the most memorable week of his life: the one in which, 40 years before, he met the great love of his life.
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EL ESPAÑOL spoke with Bedos when the world had not yet been shaken by the pandemic and in the dictionary of the “belle époque” there was no room for words like virus or inflation. “I think that nostalgia does not go out of style because it makes us think of our youth”. The French scriptwriter and director also believes that fiction has taken over because “it is increasingly difficult to innovate when it comes to telling stories, which is why we appeal to the artistic phenomena of the past.”
In addition to talking about the importance of the New Wave of French cinema, Bedos highlights revolutionary phenomena such as cubism. “All of that has already happened. You can’t try again.” It is no coincidence that the 70s are the era chosen by the characters of The Belle Epoque to revive and reinterpret from the protagonist’s own experiences. The filmmaker tries not to hide only in the past, neither when he works nor in his personal life. “As a viewer, I am increasingly hungry for storybooks and visual films. I make movies that I personally would go see and where I feel comfortable. A certain narrative and visual “elsewhere”.
The origin of Bedos’s second film was an image: a man who sinks into the present and takes refuge in a period whose codes soothe and protect him. “I wanted to film the vertigo I feel from time to time, this psychological defeat and its antidote, sometimes ridiculous and very moving. I realized that this image had cinematic promise and a lot of satire. This man came to me as a reflection of people close to me, like my father, and in a way, myself.”
The great attraction of this nostalgic comedy comes with the particular company that develops the character of Guillaume Canet: a place that allows its clients to visit a period of the past that they want to experience or relive. The author came up with this idea from the saturation of series that we have experienced in recent years. Bedos created a Black Mirror in a minimalist key through the use of a set, props, documentation and actors.
Instead of the futuristic settings of the series created by Charlie Booker, Bedos bets on much more everyday and recognizable scenarios that were enjoyed by both the fictional characters and the production workers. “I saw them enjoy making the movie. To the point where we had trouble breaking up on Friday nights – we were partying on sets we had designed ourselves.”
Although all actors have their own opportunities to shine, the star of the show is Fanny Ardant, the ex of the protagonist. Bedos, also an actor, had known the actress for many years and knew that he wanted to have her since before writing the script. “I am crazy about this woman whose poetic disposition, eccentricity, humor and fragility fills me with enthusiasm.” The collaboration with the French diva had its own challenges, despite their previous relationship. “On set, Fanny did not always agree with her character: he had problems with his unwarranted nastiness, and constantly had to be reminded that Marianne’s tough exterior was rooted in her fear of decay and death.
The nostalgic character of the film collides head-on with the professional future of a Bedos who has not stopped working since the premiere of The Belle Epoque. In 2021 he premiered OSS 117: From Africa with love, the latest installment of the action comedy saga created by Michel Hazanavicius with the Oscar-winning Jean Dujardin as the lead. In 2022 meeting the who’s who of French cinema (including Pierre Niney, Isabelle Adjani, François Cluzet, Marine Vacht or Emmanuelle Devos) in Masquerade, a crime drama. The series is now pending premiere Alfonso, with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Laura Morante and, again, Jean Dujardin. Almost nothing.
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‘La belle époque’, a French-style ‘Black Mirror’, nostalgic and in a minimalist key