© Alamode Film/Filmagentinnen

Im Herzen jung (The Young Lovers, Les Jeunes Amants)
France/Belgium 2021

Opening 3 Aug 2023

Directed by: Carine Tardieu
Writing credits: Sólveig Anspach, Raphaële Moussafir, Agnes de Sacy, Carine Tardieu
Principal actors: Fanny Ardant, Melvil Poupaud, Cécile de France, Florence Loiret Caille, Sharif Andoura

Life can sometimes catch people by surprise. Take the case of French director Carine Tardieu’s newest film, Les jeunes amants, when two unsuspecting peoples’ lives are knocked out of sync, to audiences’ delight. The very screenplay evolved from Icelandic-French director-writer Sólveig Anspach, inspired by her mother’s personal experience, working with screenwriter Agnès de Sacy before Anspach’s death. Taking on the responsibility, Tardieu added her spin to the storyline with de Sacy creating an awesomely astute and warmhearted film made better by the fine-tuned, credible performances from Fanny Ardant and Melvil Poupaud.

When Pierre (Poupaud) and Shauna (Ardant) first meet at the hospital where he works, circumstances are stressful; she slips away forgetting her photograph. They both lead full lives; he is a happily married oncologist; she is a happily retired architect. Fifteen years later he almost misses his chance to return the photo when he, colleague and friend Georges (Sharif Andoura) and team are in Dublin, Ireland, meeting with a medical laboratory. This time the circumstances are different, they are relaxed, have more time. Pierre and Jeanne’s (Cécile de France) seven-year-old Marcel (Martin Laurent) is a handful, while at 18 Rosalie (Sarah Henochsberg) is too busy for them; initially Jeanne takes his news in stride. For Cécilia (Florence Loiret Caille), herself experiencing a daughter (Olenka Ilunga) leaving home, she is intrigued imagining which of Shauna’s older friends it could be. Nonetheless, their 25-year age difference confounds everyone. Just as Shauna’s illness confounds their newfound nurturing relationship.

The inherent respect and empathy mark this film with grace and dignity seen too seldom onscreen, imbued by the casts’ stellar performances; all the characters are likeable, decorous, realistically unsettled. Elin Kirschfink’s cinematography and Christel Dewynter’s editing follow the nuanced timing in the depth of Poupaud and Ardant’s rich portrayals, thus capturing the pathos entwined in, and enhanced by the swells of Eric Slabiak’s soundtrack. Only at the end does Im Herzen jung stumble, then end most abruptly. (Marinell Haegelin)

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