Fifty Springtimes: Standing on a teetering bridge
by Fabien Lemercier
- With humour and sensitivity, Blandine Lenoir brings us an endearing film about a 50-year-old woman in a full-blown stage of transition, with a nice role for Agnès Jaoui
"I’m scared of being old, poor and alone – poor and alone can be fixed, but being old is something else, it’s something you have to get used to". And rightly so, at the age of 50, the heroine of Fifty Springtimes [+see also:
film profile], the second feature film by Blandine Lenoir after her acclaimed film Zouzou [+see also:
film profile] in 2014, finds it hard to imagine herself in this new stage of her life. It is by leaning on this unsettling scenario of facing your physiological limits, the discrimination of the working world against senior citizens, and the psychological and emotional distress of getting old, that the director weaves a light-hearted and endearing portrait of a woman and mother who rediscovers herself with much difficulty. Released today in French theatres by Diaphana, the film is also a chance for Agnès Jaoui to show us the full extent of her talent in the role of this shaken 50-year-old, as she wavers between refusal and acceptance of the future, rekindling the heart of a starry-eyed young girl.
"I’m scared to death!" There is no denying that Aurore has something to worry about. She has exhausted her stock of oocytes, and menopause has taken hold off her body, with its unsettling hot flushes (as her doctor says to her, "we have to be philosophical about this; after 30, it’s all downhill, you can’t keep trying to fix everything, that’s all..."), her job as a waitress is turned upside down by a new owner hell-bent on looking younger and using anglicisms who persists in calling her Samantha ("at least we can dream!"), her eldest daughter Marina (Sarah Suco) announces that soon she’ll be a grandmother, and her youngest daughter Lucie (Lou Roy-Lecollinet) is planning on following her partner to Barcelona. And as Aurore’s husband left her to make a new life for himself elsewhere some time ago, all she has is the loneliness of her house, unemployment, the emotional desert stretching out before her and the hardly joyful prospect of getting old to look forward to.
But this stage of crisis, full of nostalgia over memories from her youth (and time as a young mother) also heralds the rekindling of the flame for her first love Totoche (Thibault de Montalembert), and the chance for her to stick together with the women in her friendship circle, above all best friend Mano (Pascale Arbillot). A sort of forceful rebirth and a quest for a new sense of self-esteem fuelled by hesitation and broached with goodwill by a director (who wrote the screenplay with Jean-Luc Gaget) who manages to strike a realistic and unpretentious balance between moving moments and purely comical sequences, which allows her to broach the existential and universal issue of a milestone in life that it’s difficult to accept with gentleness, charm and reasonable optimism.
Produced by Karé Productions, Fifty Springtimes is being sold internationally by Be for Films. The film has already been pre-purchased by Spain (Surtsey Films), Sweden (Folkets Bio), the Benelux countries (Athena Films), Poland (Canal+/Ale Kino+), Hungary (Cirko), Greece (One From the Heart), Canada (Axia) and China (Beijing Efida), and will have two screenings at the Film Market of the 70th Cannes Film Festival (17-28 May).
(Translated from French)
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