France, 2017, 89 minutes, Colour.
Agnes Jaoui, Thibault de Montelamebert, Pascale Arbillot, Sarah Suco, Lou Roy- Lecollinet.
Directed by Blandine Lenoir.
This is a drama, with some comic touches, that will resonate with a women’s audience. In fact, a men’s audience may well find itself more immediately observing rather than empathising which, it is hoped, they eventually will do.
Aurore is played by Agnes Jaouoi, who has also written and directed films in the past. This time, however, the screenplay has been written by women and the director is a woman. Aurore has two friends as well as some close women friends.
At the opening, Aurore is suffering from hot flushes, not quite understanding, realising that this is a period of menopause – with some visits to the doctor which enables the screenplay to explain aspects of the menopause, physiological, psychological, one Aurore and to the audience.
Aurore is also divorced and has no job, but hurrying to an interview at a restaurant where she is old enough to be the other applicants’ mother and whom the owner of the restaurant whimsically wants to call Samantha – more attractive to customers, he thinks. She has two daughters, one being pregnant, which disturbs Aurore who advises her not to make mistakes as she did in her past, something which the daughter interprets as her being a mistake in her mother’s life. The other daughter lives at home and is studying but has a sometime live-in boyfriend.
There is also Aurore’s close friend, Mano, full of exuberance, unmarried, prone to some cosmetic surgery, a real estate agent who invokes Aurore’s help in promoting apartments she is trying to sell. At one such meeting, Aurore meets the boyfriend of her past, Christophe, who has never married and, we realise, has been hurt by Aurore’s ignoring him when he was on his military service in Germany and has subsequently married his friend.
The audience is not wrong in seeing where this might be going. They have some meetings, a meal in a restaurant where there are singing waiters who do some fine operatic excerpts. In the meantime, there are problems with her younger daughter wanting to go off to Barcelona with her boyfriend and give up studies, comforting her pregnant daughter, going to a school reunion and feeling rebuffed by Christophe.
Will Aurore find a new life with an older friend? Will Christophe overcome his long-held hurt? Will the daughter stay in Barcelona? Will the other daughter give birth?
In many ways, Aurore, her family and friends live ordinary lives in a contemporary city. And in some ways, their problems are very ordinary. However, the audience is drawn into the characters’ lives – in a story which promises happy endings.
1. The title, the focus on the? Her name meaning Dawn? A portrait?
2. A French city, by the sea, homes, restaurants, hospitals, schools, the home for elderly ladies? Ordinary characters in ordinary situations, issues? The musical score?
3. The issue of age, women and menopause, their experiences, change of life, hot flushes and their effect? The background to divorce, jobs? Aurore and her work in the restaurant? The young women, her being called Samantha, the treatment by the boss? Getting to work, her relationship with Lucy at home? Lucy and her relationship with Tim? Marina and her pregnancy? Aurore’s offhand remark and Marina being hurt? Her friendship with Mano, the bond between them, age, the contrast in life and relationships, work? Aurore helping in the sale of the house? The chance encounter with Christophe? His work with the sonar, taking her daughter to his office? The coffee? The outing at the restaurant, the singing waiters and the operatic selection? Helping Marina? Upset at Lucy going to Barcelona with Tim? The interviews for the job, her being chosen for the role play, her awkwardness? Mano and her group, the discussions, Herve? The relationship with him? The school reunion, Christophe unable to continue the relationship, not wanting to be hurt? The proposal to go to Venice? Christophe running, Aurore stopping in the car, assisting at the birth of her grandchild?
4. Christophe, the past, young at school, his military service in Germany, away for the year, his sending the tapes, Aurore keeping them, her not replying? Her marrying and Nanar? The marriage, the two daughters, the divorce? His work with the sonar? The chance meeting, the further contact, the restaurant and the opera excerpts, the school reunion, not wanting to continue the reunion, Aurore listening to the tape, the sending it, his running to her?
5. Marina, pregnant, reaction to her mother talking about a mistake? Her relationship with Mathieu? The clash with Mathieu, with her mother, her mother, fitting her, the reaction to Her fate? The birth? Lucy, younger, love for Tim, giving up her studies, going to Barcelona, returning, his macho behaviour? Her profile as the final image? In the steps of her mother or not?
6. Mano, her age, real estate, friendship, the setup and the attack on the man with the younger woman, flinging the ring? The carry on? Her soirée and friends? Her plastic surgery? The encounter with the man she insulted, the kiss?
7. The man in the street, the younger woman, the ring, his role in the role play, wanting Mano’s phone number?
8. The doctors, the explanation about menopause, the scientific background, the symptoms, the fund of initial follicles and their deteriorating? The doctor urging Aurore to deal with it or not?
9. The woman at the agency, her flushes, her confusion in speaking, coming to terms?
10. The exuberant feelgood ending, Christophe running, Aurore going out of the car, the birth of the grandchild, the daughters?