Bright Days Ahead

Film, Drama
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Bright Days Ahead

If the prospect of yet another French drama about a middle-class marriage in crisis sounds a bit familiar, the difference here is an absolutely regal turn from 65-year-old actress Fanny Ardant. She plays Caroline, a married, recently retired dentist who’s just lost her best friend to cancer. Her daughters are so worried about Caroline they’ve enrolled her in the local seniors’ club, hoping she’ll take up pottery. What no one bargains on is Julien (Laurent Lafitte), a thirtysomething womanising computer tutor who soon has Caroline under his spell. We’ve seen variations on the character before. But Ardant’s performance as the straitlaced wife discovering the delights of carefree desire, yet mindful of the potential collateral damage, is insightful and note-perfect.

By: Trevor Johnston


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday June 20 2014
Duration: 94 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Marion Vernoux
Screenwriter: Marion Vernoux
Cast: Fanny Ardant
Laurent Lafitte
Patrick Chesnais

Average User Rating

3 / 5

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If all Senior Ladies and Dentists were like Fanny Ardant, then neither retirement nor a trip of the Dentist would seem such a daunting prospect. Unfortuntately, real life isn't like that, and this film does not have much in common with real life. It's entertaining enough, Pas-De-Calais is made to look an agreeable location (i.e. enticing shots of the seaside, with not too much deprivation), and the performances are spot-on (notably, Patrick Chesnais as Ardant's cuckolded, but reasonably 'quick to catch on', husband). However, instead of looking at how Ardant's wanton behaviour could potentially rip apart her family, the film lets her get clean away with it, being on her side throughout, and, naturally, she is allowed to come to terms with her ageing in her own sweet time. Maybe the French attitudes to infidelity are somewhat more relaxed than those in the UK, but I don't believe they're as relaxed as portrayed in 'Bright Days Ahead'.

France does not have any trouble churning out these classy dramas about its mildly dissatisfied bourgeoisie, using the same ageing actors, but I feel that French Cinema really needs a shot in the arm, and should start addressing France's real problems (or maybe such films just don't make it across the Channel).