Director: Blandine Lenoir
Screenwriters: Blandine Lenoir and Jean Luc Gaget, from an original idea by Blandine Lenoir with additional dialogue by Océane Rose Marie
Thibault de Montalembert
Runtime: 89 mins.
Australian release date: 17 May 2018
Previewed at: Palace Central, Sydney, on 30 April 2018.
Coaching Agnès Jaoui in preparation for her leading role as Aurore in her eponymous film, director Blandine Lenoir instructed her that, “You are a woman who stands tall and is in touch with others. Aurore may not be a great feminist, but as she starts to meet women who show solidarity to one another, she realizes that her personal experience is indeed a collective experience.” Aurore is a touching film about a woman going through a mid-life crisis. She is long separated from the father of her adult female children, going through menopause, recently unemployed and about to be left alone as her youngest daughter is flying the coop. Lenoir wanted to pay homage to women like her when she started to see her 40-something friends begin to go through similar experiences. “I saw many women around me ending up in a terrible loveless solitude; incredible, beautiful and talented women whose exes had been able to make new lives for themselves,” she says. The difference is, in her script, she wanted to concentrate on the positive.
Aurore is experiencing hot flushes and the new owner of the bar/restaurant where she works, Seb (Nicolas Chupin), is making changes. Apart from moving her from waiting on tables to working behind the bar, he wants to give her a new name - Samantha. Why? Because he thinks it’s sexier… merde! Unable to put up with his behaviour, she flares up and walks out, commiserating over a drink with her closest gal pal Mano (Pascale Arbillot), who does her best to cheer her up. Her daughters Marina (Sarah Suco) and Lucie (Lou Roy-Lecollinet) aren’t much help, especially when Aurore learns that she is about to become une grand-mère - Marina is pregnant - and Lucie is heading for Spain with her musician boyfriend. Just when things couldn’t get much worse a chance meeting with her old high-school sweetheart, Totoche (Thibault de Montalembert), brings some hope into her life. But does he feel the same about her?
Jaoui is endearing to watch playing Aurore as she peels off layers of clothing while experiencing hot flushes, fanning herself, and she, and the script, aren’t afraid to reveal the emotional ups-and-downs that ‘the change’ brings. Aurore’s discomfort is apparent but at the same time she is matter of fact about her menopause, trying to take it in her stride, and Jaoui is her willing accomplice. It helps that the character, the actor and the writer/director are all on the same page in this regard.
Aurore contains many sly examples of the inappropriate behaviour that women are subjected to by men and is very ‘woke’ when you consider the current #MeToo movement. Lenoir has created a thoroughly believable tale that will resonate with women ‘of a certain age’ but it’s also funny and tender, so don’t worry if that image doesn't describe you, there are pleasures here to be experienced by all. It throws light on a situation that befalls all women and makes those who come through it unscathed thankful for their luck but there is nothing mawkish about this portrait of womanhood. On the contrary, it shows that this period can be an opportunity to reappraise one’s life. The strains of Nina Simone’s ‘Ain’t got no, I got life’ sum it up beautifully. In fact, I Got Life was the name Lenoir’s film was released under in some English language territories; in others it was known as Fifty Springtimes. You can take your pick.