© Constantin Film Verleih GmbH

Die schönste Zeit unseres Lebens (La belle époque)
France 2019

Opening 28 Nov 2019

Directed by: Nicolas Bedos
Writing credits: Nicolas Bedos
Principal actors: Daniel Auteuil, Guillaume Canet, Doria Tillier, Fanny Ardant, Pierre Arditi

At a dinner party the Good Old Times are being discussed. When Victor (Daniel Auteuil) is asked: “What would be your favored time to return to?” His cynic answer is: “The stone ages, when I still had sex with my wife”. Well, it is clear that this marriage of 45 years has lost its sparkle. Victor is disillusioned with the world around him. Newspapers no longer want to print his political cartoons. He feels a stranger in the digital age. On the other hand, his wife Marianne (Fanny Ardant) wants to be up-to-date. Whilst he prefers reading a book with real paper pages, she sits in their marital bed watching a VR beach scene. For some time she has had an affair with Victor's best friend François (Denis Podalydès). During a nightly argument Marianne spontaneously throws her husband out of the house which leaves him perplexed and lost.

To help him back on track his son sends him a gift voucher for a “Time Travel” offered by his school friend Antoine's (Guillaume Canet) company. Well-heeled clients can chose in which time zone they would like to be. Victor takes this opportunity to fulfill his dream of living in the 1970s, to be precise, to relive May 16, 1974 when he first met the young Marianne at La Belle Èpoque, his favored bar in Lyon. It is a cosy place. Everybody smokes, drinks, flirts and the heated discussions are not “politically correct”. The young “Marianne”, played by the talented Doria Tiller, enters the bar. Victor is immediately fascinated by her. He beams with surprise and joy, the conversation is exactly as he remembers. It makes him happy and young again. When “Marianne” leaves the bar she drops per shawl at the door and disappears. And now? He rushes after her, only to find himself in different film sets. Frantically he moves through various scenes, angrily hitting “Hitler” before continuing the search for his lost love. He is totally involved in his fantasy and wants to continue the 1970s. As this is a business enterprise, it comes with a price. He sells the holiday place and again returns to the time of his youth, this time with a staged sex orgy of stark-naked actors who don't want to stop acting. But Victor is only interested in again meeting the young “Marianne”. Meanwhile, his wife has realized that she is missing her grumpy old husband and has joint the actors. To Victor's surprise his real and still beautiful Marianne enters the bar, their conversation is nostalgic, loving and with mocking acceptance of reality.

Nicolas Bedos has directed and written a smart and entertaining feel-good comedy, carried by a first-class acting crew. His clever concept holds a repertoire of quick-witted dialogue with surprising ideas and fast moving action. (Birgit Schrumpf)

The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.