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France | 2019 | 115 mins
Director: Nicolas Bedos
This high-concept comedy from Nicolas Bedos (Mr. & Mrs. Adelman) shrewdly taps into our current technological anxieties and our most basic desire to revisit our glory days. Starring Daniel Auteuil, Fanny Ardant, and Guillaume Canet, La Belle Époque blurs historical eras while tracking a charismatic curmudgeon’s existential reckoning.
Victor (Auteuil) is a sexagenarian cartoonist whose long-time publisher has eliminated their print edition and, with it, his gig. No fan of AI or VR, Victor likes turning pages, touching flesh, and seeing what’s actually before him. Alas, what’s before him is a resentful wife, Marianne (Ardant), who can no longer stand him. “I think you’ve been alive too long,” Marianne confesses during one of her rages.
Longing to escape the present, Victor opts to return to the past — or a simulacrum of it. Enter Time Travellers, a service that immerses clients in a painstaking reenactment of whatever historical moment its actors, designers, and builders can conjure. Victor hires Time Travellers to return him to May 16, 1974, the day he first met Marianne in a Lyon café. He finds himself beguiled by every detail, from the vintage editions of Libération to the punchy plastic egg holders to Margo (Doria Tillier), the actress he accepts as the Marianne he fell for 45 years ago. It feels like a beautiful dream. But what happens when it’s time to wake up?
Handsomely crafted, La Belle Epoque cleverly works through the complications of blurring fact and fantasy. – Screen Daily
Everything clicks here, all the time. – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter