Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse (My Golden Days)
As anthropologist Paul Dédalus (Mathieu Amalric) prepares for his return to Paris after years posted in Tajikistan, he looks back over the “golden years” of his youth, the period that shaped his life. A prequel to Arnaud Desplechin’s 1996 film, My Sex Life… Or How I Got into an Argument, My Golden Days consists of three chapters that are unevenly spread.
The first and briefest episode, Childhood, manages to summarise Paul’s turbulent early years, dominated by a neurotic mother whose suicide will drive his father into an endless depression. While Childhood sounds like the beginning of a family drama, it is in sharp contrast with second instalment Russia, which feels more like a spy thriller. Now a teenager, Paul and his friend Mark smuggle money and documents to Russian Jews during a high-school trip to Minsk. Both of those segments feel simply like a setup of what’s to come in the film’s longest and strongest episode. Esther is dedicated to Paul’s first and most sincere love, compromising a mix of long gazes, dialogues about classic art, tender love-making and long love letters.
As their relationship unfolds, it quickly becomes clear that the couple’s constant affairs are more about the search for protection and the fear of loneliness than about sheer lust and infidelity. Their restless passion and deep emotional connection are brilliantly portrayed in a bold move, reminiscent of classic French cinema, as those sincere, almost heart-breaking letters are recited by the actors looking straight at the camera. Here, Quentin Dolmaire and Lou Roy-Lecollinet shine as young Paul and Esther, their softly spoken monologues deeply enticing, their innocent gazes bold and captivating. Despechin and Julie Peyr’s writing is profoundly personal, but it is these two actors who are the heart and soul of the movie.
The film is visually absolutely stunning – a mix of Irina Lubtchansky’s marvellous camera work with clever use of old-school split screen and iris shots, which give a certain sense of voyeurism and of peeking into one’s past. Another greatly personal film by Arnaud Desplechin, My Golden Days has a gripping epilogue, reminding exactly how far young love can reach into the future. It is while witnessing the fall of the Berlin wall that Paul realises that his “childhood is over,” brilliantly summing up the irretrievable loss of youth and the uncertainty of the future awaiting.
Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse (My Golden Days) does not have a UK release date yet.
Watch the trailer for Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse (My Golden Days) here: