La Belle Epoque: LFF Film Review

In the TV series Westworld, customers pay to be immersed in a different world populated by life-like robots and this French drama, La Belle Epoque, shares a similar concept. It revolves around a company which builds sets to fit a client’s chosen period and fills it with actors.

Victor (Daniel Auteuil) and Marianne (Fanny Ardant) are a couple who have been unhappily married for years and she’s having an affair with his best friend. When Marianne splits up from him to pursue her new relationship, Victor tries out the company and asks to be transported back to a cafe in 1974, to the night they first met. During the recreation, Marianne is played by Margot (Doria Tillier) – who has a complex relationship with the company’s director Antoine (Guillaume Canet) – and Victor ends up falling in love with her.

I loved the concept of La Belle Epoque and it was fascinating watching the team set up for each new client, with Antoine making sure the period details are correct and the actors know their characters inside out. They have a tougher job with Victor because he’s going back to a specific time he already lived through and remembers well and he wants all the details to be exactly right. Even though he knows it’s all fake, he can’t help getting swept up in the nostalgia and falling for the actress Marianne.

La Belle Epoque is sad and sweet, following a man who is so desperate and lonely that he’d rather spend time in the fake world than the real one. He seems like a nice guy while Marianne has hardened with age and takes no shit. The arc between them was predictable but still lovely to watch.

I was more captivated by Margot, who loves Antoine but is fed up of the lines being blurred between their personal and professional relationship. This is complicated even more when she’s asked to seduce a client and then goes off-script. Tillier has a magnetic onscreen presence and played the most interesting character.

La Belle Epoque is a lovely, enjoyable watch with an interesting idea and cast of characters.

Seen during the 2019 London Film Festival. Scheduled to hit cinemas on 22 November.

Rating: 3/5

Comments

  1. I’m a huge Westworld fan, this seems like a perfect fit for me! Thanks for the recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

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