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First Look Review - MY GOLDEN DAYS

Detained while attempting to return to his country, a Frenchman recalls his youth.


Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Arnaud Desplechin

Starring: Quentin Dolmaire, Lou Roy-Lecollinet, Mathieu Amalric




"An awful lot of continental male filmmakers seem to have had their hearts broken while in college and hold the mistaken belief that torturing themselves over this makes for good cinema. All I can say to them is, "Get over it!""





In 1996, a little known French actor, Mathieu Amalric, won a Cesar (the French Oscar) for 'Most Promising Actor' in Arnaud Desplechin's My Sex Life... or How I Got into an Argument. Since then, Amalric has become an international star, collaborating with Spielberg and Polanski, and, like so many other Central European stars, essaying a Bond villain. Two decades later Amalric returns to the role of Paul Dedalus for Desplechin's sequel/prequel, My Golden Days.
Dedalus is now an anthropologist who has been living in Tajikistan for the past eight years. Set to make a belated return to France, he is detained at the airport. It seems at first his identity has been stolen, as another Paul Dedalus, sharing his exact time and place of birth, passed away in Australia several years prior. A visit from a representative of the French consulate leads Dedalus to recount the tale of how his passport came to be passed to this other man.
It's at this point that the movie pulls us into a mini cold war thriller, as the teenage Dedalus (Quentin Dolmaire) becomes embroiled, through a Jewish school friend, in a mission to help a group of Jews leave Soviet-era Moscow for Israel. For these 20 or so minutes, Desplechin spins a gripping yarn, but when Dedalus returns to France, and the story moves forward three years, My Golden Years turns into the sort of tedious male fantasy that French cinema insists on still pumping out.
The 19-year-old Dedalus meets and instantly falls for the 16-year-old Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet). The two embark on a relationship, but Dedalus' paranoia regarding her promiscuity threatens to tear it all apart. The classic double standard is rolled out as we're asked to side with 'nice guy' Dedalus (who confesses a disdain for "female intelligence"), who is fine with sleeping around himself (hooking up with a girl who laughably insists on literally dropping her skirt in his presence) but refuses to accept the same behaviour from his lover. An awful lot of continental male filmmakers seem to have had their hearts broken while in college and hold the mistaken belief that torturing themselves over this makes for good cinema. All I can say to them is, "Get over it!"



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