Criticism, ‘The young lovers’: The passion rediscovered at the dawn of the sunset
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If there is something that the French filmmaker Carine Tardieu has shown with her feature films that she knows how to narrate feelings and take great care of her characters. Although she has already had four films behind her back, in Spain she could be known with ‘Sácame de doubts’, whose feel-good cinema coverage hid a drama about family origins and unrequited love that showed a director who knew how to convey complexity both of the plot and of what its characters live. The director now dares with ‘The young lovers’, in which she narrates an impossible love, with a marked age difference, which breaks any pre-established scheme of what is expected of the film.
With great delicacy (despite the irony of its title), ‘The young lovers’ narrates the emergence of an unexpected passion between Shauna, a 71-year-old womana retired architect who decided to close herself off from love at her age and begins to look death in the face as she suffers from a paralyzing illness, and Pierre, a 45-year-old doctor, married, with a family he loves, but with a deep personal emptiness. A relationship with an age difference of 26 years, with which Tardieu had an enormous responsibility, being a tribute to the Icelandic filmmaker Sólveig Anspach, who died in August 2015, from whom the idea came and with whom she sought to pay tribute to her own motherwho at the age of 75 rediscovered love in the arms of a man 25 years her junior.
The interesting thing about ‘The young lovers’ is that it performs a circular exercise around the advent of a death. Being fully aware that the sunset is not only approaching (rather, it is already there) but that the end feels tremendously close; the starring couple decides to live a passionate story of ‘amour fou’. Tardieu, who takes Anspach’s own script as a reference together with Agnès de Sacy, makes a feature film in which he takes advantage of the elements of a romantic drama to bring them to a reflection on the possibility of loving when it seemed that time has already passed and he does it head-onby portraying a love between a 71-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man, a risky bet whose result is an honest, intimate, graceful film that envelops the audience with its two main actors: two fascinating Fanny Ardant and Melvil Poupaud.
The passion of ‘amour fou’ tinged with the calm that gives the passage of time
The former has experience in living love stories with men 25 younger than her (in fiction), since she already had a passion with Laurent Lafitte in the stupendous ‘My Happy Days’; although by then the approach was very different from the one reflected in this proposal. She conveys very well that feeling of wanting to let go, but at the same time being aware that ailments are ailments and that the chimera of ‘love has no age’ is just that, a daydream. At his side, a hypnotic Melvil Poupaud, seductive without wanting to be, who indulges in a relationship that awakens in him unknown sensations, even daring. It is quite representative that his wife in fiction -a magnetic Cécile de France- does not bother him so much an infidelity, but that “the other” is much older than herwhich implies that deeper the adventure.
Secondly, Tardieu takes great care of the secondary characters, they all have their complexities and none is what is expected to be in this type of story. The aforementioned Cécile de France especially stands out, in her surprise and bewilderment at how a solid relationship can be broken by something that no one (not even her own husband in fiction) could see coming. Mention also for Florence Loiret-Caille, who plays Shauna’s daughter, also a reflection of Anspach herself.at the time of seeing how his mother gave herself to an impossible love in her last years of life.
‘The young lovers’ combines very well the fanciful look of passion, of ‘amour fou’, of two lovers who decide to give themselves to a relationship against all odds. Yes, it embraces that part that can evoke a bolero, playing with the genre and creating a beautiful bond on screen, which exudes chemistry and affection. Now, he knows how to mix it with the blow that reality itself gives, that those 25 years of difference cannot be ignored, which means that the film is also an unusual proposal, in which, by the way, Tardieu avoids making any reflection on sex roles, something that elevates the film, by not offering the feeling that it highlights a message that is already itself calls into question the conventions of romance. A proposal that once again demonstrates that it is before a filmmaker who, with each new feature film, shows that she has a unique and sensitive view of feelings and emotions.
The best: How Fanny Ardant and Melvil Poupaud spread their passion, it is impossible not to be carried away by this love.
Worst: At first, the love story has a hard time starting.