Something in the Air
With candour and vision, Olivier Assayas’ Something in the Air (Après Mai) shares the experiences of an 18 year-old boy and his friends’ journey into adulthood in the aftermath of the near social revolution in Europe during the 1970s. With its direct script, sincere performances and complex character development, this French film tackles universal themes that draw the viewer in and relay insight into our own coming-of-age stories.
Unlike most melodramatic dialogue written for young adults, Assayas’ screenplay creates much more realistic characters who struggle with issues of uncertainty and dissatisfaction in life. Free-spirited Laure (Carol Combes) decides protagonist, Gilles (Clément Métayer) is no longer right for her as her family is moving to London and she’s leaving: “I don’t want you to come visit, it’s easier this way…I’ll write to you…please don’t watch me walk away”. It is unclear how deeply Laure cares for Gilles in the nonchalant way Combes recites this verse, but her crass words and demeanor hold value with anyone that has broken the heart of a young love, in search of something better.
Meanwhile, Alain (Felix Armand) faces a crossroads, grappling with the decision to pursue his education in art or postpone it in favour of his passionate relationship with Leslie (India Salvor Menuez). His close friend Gilles eloquently expresses his ennui with the path his own life has taken: “I live in fantasies and when reality comes knocking on my door, I don’t open.” This thought accurately exemplifies the truth that many face in their twenties and demands reflection on the choices these characters make, as much as our own.
While thought-provoking but somewhat slow-paced, the stunning cinematography of riots in Paris and picturesque landscapes in Italy is visually appealing and compelling. The accompanying soundtrack with classic hits by Syd Barrett and Kevin Ayers further embellishes the subject matter and truly assists in recreating the stimulating era.
Something in the Air is released nationwide on 24th May 2013.
Watch our interview with director Olivier Assayas here:
Watch the trailer for Something in the Air here: