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César-winning French cinema icon Fanny Ardant stars in this sophisticated and sexy drama about a married woman in her sixties tumbling into an affair with a much younger man.
Fanny Ardant is a true icon of French
stage and cinema. Her striking beauty is
heightened by a fierce intelligence, her
cool authority undercut by sensuousness.
Each of these essential qualities is carefully
woven into her portrayal of Caroline, the
star of Marion Vernoux's Bright Days Ahead,
an absorbing drama about erotic reawakening
and the renewal of one's sense of self.
Having recently relieved herself of a
career in dentistry — "If you have to give
something up, you might as well do it on
a whim," she says — sexagenarian retiree
Caroline decides to try out the membership
to a seniors' club her daughters recently
gave her as a gift. But the club's activities
seem geared to infantilize its participants,
and Caroline aborts the venture after only
a brief sampling. One thing, though, has
caught her interest: Julien (Laurent Lafitte),
the club's handsome computer instructor,
an unabashed womanizer roughly half her
age. Julien brazenly flirts with Caroline
during an impromptu lunch date, and soon
after they tumble into a full-on affair. Rules
are set, yet Caroline seems to like courting
danger, taking her lover to places she knows
they might be seen and telling lies to her
husband (Patrick Chesnais) that could easily
After abandoning her career, Caroline
now seems to be throwing her marriage
away, too. Or is she simply looking for a way
to start everything afresh?
Mature, reckless, and tastefully racy:
these adjectives could just as easily be
applied to Bright Days Ahead as a whole
as to Ardant's captivating performance.
This is an adult movie in the best sense: not
merely ribald but smart, resonant, erotic
and deeply satisfying.
- Marion Vernoux
- Marion Vernoux was born in
Montreuil-sous-Bois, France. She
wrote the screenplay for Bernard
Schmitt's Pacific Palisades (90). Her
directorial credits include Personne
ne m'aime (94), Rien à faire (99),
both of which screened at the
Festival, Reines d'un jour (01), À boire
(04), and Bright Days Ahead (13).