The Belle Epoque: Nicolas Bedos brilliantly succeeds in his baptism of fire on the Croisette [critique]

A great and beautiful film, tender but never cutesy, spicy but never cynical about nostalgia.

The 75th Cannes Film Festival will open next week (it will take place precisely from May 17 to 28) and this is reflected in the television programming. While Arte will broadcast on this Sunday evening the 2019 Palme d’Or, ParasiteFrance 2 will also offer another film that made an impression on the Croisette that year: The good timesby Nicolas Bedos. First recommend it to you.

It’s an irresistible rise in power that will inevitably make people jealous. To the point that one wonders if he shouldn’t have signed his film under a pseudonym to avoid the haters who, even before seeing him, have a definitive opinion on him because he annoys them. Yes, Nicolas Bedos is divisive. But on the film side, it is rather in the family of the acclaimed. first feature, Mr and Mrs Adelman ? Nomination for the César for the first film. Second long, The good times ? Selection out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival, the same position as The Big Bath of his friend Gilles Lellouche last year!

The good times Will he meet the same happy fate? It is obviously too early to tell. But one thing is certain: this devilishly romantic work, both eminently personal (the shadow of his father Guy hovers more often than not over his central character) and eminently universal had its place on the Croisette. First for the storytelling qualities of Bedos. His faith in stories bigger than life. Its central character is called Victor. He’s a 60-year-old who has never found his feet in the new world, a once flamboyant comic book artist lost in new technologies and who seems to be approaching death without the slightest regret. His depressive and defeatist attitude annoys his wife who even seems to have lost the desire to shake him. She doesn’t hate him but the mirror he holds out to her. He has one foot in the grave. She doesn’t want him to take her there. And then one day, Antoine, a brilliant entrepreneur and friend of their son, offers Victor the opportunity to experience the new kind of attraction he has imagined: mixing theatrical tricks (actors, staging, etc.) and historical reconstruction, he invites his clients to dive back into the era of their choice. A meal at the court of Louis XVI like reuniting with a deceased father. Victor will just choose to go back to the last century, the 20th, and relive the most significant week of his life: the one where 40 years earlier, he met great love…

The good times will therefore permanently and with a fluidity never found fault play with these two eras. Today when all of Victor’s dreams seem to have definitively vanished and yesterday when everything seemed possible to him. Today with Victor’s “real” wife who takes a lover. And yesterday with the actress who embodies him to perfection and with whom Victor will fall in love without anyone really knowing – and after all why seek to rationalize passion! – if he falls under her spell or that of the memory of this meeting… or both at the same time. And the more Victor will dive back into this past, the more he will relive the present. The more the memories invade him, the more he finds the desire to create others.

The good times speaks of nostalgia with a permanent emotion on edge but without an ounce of whiny sentimentality. First, because Bedos’ writing is like that. In his books, in his chronicles, in his plays and in his films, the principle remains the same: every caress is followed by a slap. And vice versa. We are all the more upset that he picks us up the next moment by one of these verbal outbursts of which he has the secret. And above all Bedos does not stupidly intone the air of “it was better before”. He summons the past to consider the future with fresh eyes. Like the metamorphosis of Victor camped by a Daniel Auteuil whom we have never admired so fair, so moving, so passionate about a role, a story and the idea of ​​having fun with his partners for years. 90, those of The girl on the Bridge, My favorite season, A heart in Winter… As if he too was regaining a taste for the game in the midst of his perfectly in tune partners (Guillaume Canet, Doria Tillier, Fanny Ardant, Pierre Arditi, Denis Podalydès…). They participate superbly in the cinematographic and romantic gesture of mad beauty offered by this film. For Nicolas Bedos, the golden age is now!

Cannes 2019 in pictures: Nicolas Bedos plunges the Croisette back into La Belle Epoque

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