My Golden Days (Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse) (R)

Drama 120 min. March 18, 2016
By Danny King
In Arnaud Desplechin's My Sex Life... or How I Got Into an Argument, intimate relations with Marion Cotillard lead one character to a spiritual awakening that inspires protagonist Paul Dédalus (Mathieu Amalric) declaim on what he considers "the one pleasure" that will never go away in life: "the surprise when I stick my hand in the panties of a girl I don't know."

In his new My Golden Days, Desplechin finds this same Paul Dédalus (still Amalric) 20 years later but in characteristic form. But the bulk of the movie takes place in flashback, imagining the earlier years of the teenage Paul (played by Quentin Dolmaire) and the first stages of his life-altering, round-and-round love affair with Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet). Desplechin's perspective on this younger Paul is more tender, less critical than it was in My Sex Life: Here, the camera moves with slow, concentrated pans and the overall smoothness of a still pond.

My Golden Days still abounds in Desplechin hallmarks: An episode of Cold War–era political rebellion leads to the elder Paul's being accosted and interrogated by a mysterious official in an depressing room, as Emmanuel Salinger is in The Sentinel; an episode of sudden paranoia has the teenage Paul belting himself in the face, as Summer Phoenix does in Esther Kahn; and, as in My Sex Life, friends swap lovers with a nonchalance that inevitably leads to jilted feelings, grim arguments and periods of great sorrow. There is serious pain in this movie -- pain that endures throughout the years -- but also a sincere love for life lived, and life remembered.
Arnaud Desplechin Quentin Dolmaire, Lou Roy-Lecollinet, Mathieu Amalric Arnaud Desplechin, Julie Peyr Magnolia Pictures

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