Film Review: My Golden Days

We live in an age of nostalgia but it’s natural to become more and more nostalgic as we grow older. Memories hold a great deal of power and we tend to look back at periods of our lives through rose-tinted glasses. Arnaud Desplechin’s new film, My Golden Days (Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse), plays up on this. It’s a prequel to his 1996 film My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument, with Mathieu Amalric reprising the role of Paul Dedalus.

After many years of living around the world working as an anthropologist, Paul (Amalric) is preparing to leave Tajikistan and return to France. As he re-enters his home country to take a job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs he is stopped by customs due to an irregularity. He goes on to recount his life, from a childhood in Roubaix and his mother’s fits of madness, a clandestine mission on a school trip to Kiev and an adolescent Paul (Quentin Dolmaire) and the love of his life Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet)

My Golden Days is a coming-of-age story told from the position of hindsight. Whilst the three stories are linked, the early traumas Paul suffers shape his emotional encounters but do not control them. His relationship with Esther is complex and complicated They are two satellites which exert a force on each other without ever being entirely comfortable in the same space. The performances from Dolmaire and Roy-Lecollinet are perfect. The ‘Esther memory’ is likely to be the most perfect sequence of cinema you’ll see all year. My Golden Days is a beautiful and poetic study of life, love and regret.

My Golden Days opens in UK cinemas on 16 March.

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