Childhood, studenthood and falling in love, Arnaud Desplechin’s My Golden Days paints an intriguing and at times erratic portrait of a boy becoming a man.
Remembrance Of Things Pastby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
The follow-up to Arnaud Desplechin’s My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument (perhaps not long awaited but fascinating all the same), My Golden Days continues the history of Paul Dedalus (both Mathieu Amalric and Quentin Dolmaire in older and younger forms), returning to Paris for the first time in eight years after being stationed with the French Foreign Office in Tajikistan. Stopped at the border over some irregularities with his passport, Paul remembers his youth. And it’s these recollections (much like a modern-day Proust) that form the backbone of Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse as Paul remembers his fraught relationship with his mother, and then father in Roubaix (Genesis), his student days studying anthropology in Paris (Exodus), and his first love Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet as the younger Emmanuelle Devos) (Esther). Delving through unexplored corners of history, such as a covert Jewish operation smuggling money across to the Soviet Union in support of Jews oppressed by communism, or neatly recreating 1980s Minsk with its trains, trams and cigarettes, My Golden Days is at its best a conglomeration of witty repartee, nostalgia for those oh-so-formative years and a melting pot of concepts and ideas. And at its worst a self-indulgent and rather anodyne pining for a lost girlfriend. Of course, the gal is half-crazed, faithless and in desperate need of male protection – an unbecoming structural misogyny that now feels anachronistic. But with a strong performance from newcomer Quentin Dolmaire and a stream of ideas that, like the page in Ancient Greek that blows into an older Paul on the Pont Des Arts, sometimes hit their mark, My Golden Days is a thoughtprovoking reverie all the same.
My Golden Days is now showing at the London Film Festival