My Golden Days: Desplechin’s Tender and Vivid Memory Film

my_golden_days_posterThe films of Gallic writer-director Arnaud Desplechin, such as A Christmas Tale or Kings & Queens, are so delicately nuanced and impressively subtle that they stand out even when placed in the context of the best contemporary French cinema.

My Golden Days, his richly detailed, energetically vivid new feature, is one of his more accessible works, largely due to its universal themes (among them, agonizing first love), intricate structure, charming tone, and fluid tempo, elements that are all effective despite the intentionally fractured text.

An epic yet intimate portrait of youth, My Golden Days premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it received warm reviews. The film was nominated for 11 César Awards (the French Oscars), including Best Film.

My Golden Days also played at the 2015 New York and at AFI Fests 2015.  Magnolia Pictures will release the film in New York and Los Angeles on March 18, with a national roll out to follow.

my_golden_days_6The versatile actor (and talented director) Mathieu Amalric reprises the role of Paul Dédalus from Desplechin’s My Sex Life…Or How I Got into an Argument, in My Golden Days, the character’s origin story of two decades ago.

Working as an anthropologist, Paul prepares to leave Tajikistan. Reflecting on his life, he goes through a series of flashbacks that are presented in three major episodes.  The tale unfolds as a tender memory film, in which the subjective remembrance of events is far more important than the actual facts.

my_golden_days_5The first segment, in which Quentin Dolmaire portrays Paul as an adolescent, includes his unhappy childhood in Roubaix, his mother’s bows with mental illness and madness, and his father’s alienating depression.

Paul next remembers his trip to the Soviet Union, where a clandestine mission led him to offer up his own identity to a young citizen, whom he continued to consider a phantom twin for the remainder of his life.

Finally, he remembers his campus life and his return to his hometown to socialize with his sister and her best friend. This chapter obviously deals with shifting circles of friends, rapid joys and disappointments, and casual betrayals. Most of all, he recalls meeting and falling for Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet), the beautiful and haughty love of his life.

my_golden_days_3Viewers of various ages should be able to relate to this picture, which is emotionally resonant and insightful in its suggestion that when it comes to experiencing callous youth, naive yearnings, first great love, and adolescent anxieties, each one of us can recall Our Golden Days.