Ten years ago, a man created a company based on a vision. What if a company could provide you with an experience that allowed you to relive a moment in time, recreated just the way you remembered with professional actors playing parts around you? These actors would be completely in character, even having the exact character quirks as people you recall and memorised lines- all done to give you the most realistic experience possible. The company running this operation owns many studios and charges a hefty price to provide the experience, but business is booming. Perhaps you would like to visit the past during World War II or The Middle Ages. Or perhaps you would like to recreate a moment in time when you felt true love.
Victor Drumond (Daniel Auteuil) is currently leading a very unhappy life and is not in sync with the present day. Victor is unemployed and has been for the last four years while he has been attempting to publish a comic book with no real success. He attends a family dinner party one evening and even falls asleep out of boredom. Victor expresses frustrations when he sees many others around him consistently embracing technology. Instead, he would prefer people just lead a simple life which includes reading books and having real one on one conversations.
To make matters worse, Victor’s wife is sick of him to the point she kicks him out. Victor now has no job and no home to go to. But luckily, he recalls a gift given to him when he recently caught up with family- the gift of being able to re-create any time of his choice. While down on his luck, Victor decides to redeem this present and relive a moment from the past which impacted him greatly.
Leading performances here are wonderful and I was completely convinced by the film’s characters and the situation they find themselves in. When you hear of a company re-creating certain moments in time, I think of previous films like Total Recall or The Truman Show. While that concept may seem familiar, this film manages to introduce new concepts and creativity to the screen which I found extremely pleasing and unexpected. Filming and Visuals were also pleasing with zero complaints from me.
As for any negatives I can only confess there were a couple of minor details. Most likely I found these minor elements negative due to personal reasons. I did feel the film’s runtime ever so slightly, but once the film’s ending was revealed, I understood why the film took the pace that it did. Once I could reflect on the whole film it felt rewarding and not disappointing. Another element was the overuse of sexual references which all felt unnecessary in the film.
Overall, La Belle Époque is a creative and fun film. To my surprise, it is also an incredibly touching film which impacted me greatly, particularly in the film’s final moments (yes, I may have cried a little). The film’s concept and plot seems familiar at first, but it is quite new and creative, plus it combines elements of romance, comedy, and drama. Even when I felt the film’s duration ever so slightly, based on the ending, it was certainly worth the build-up and I felt rewarded. A film like this is quite rare and it promises to leave you with a smile on your face while exiting the dark cinema.
La Belle Époque (2019) Arrives in Australian Cinemas from August 13th
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Review Written by Peter Walkden