My Golden Days
Directed by Arnaud Desplechin
Released March 18, 2016
There’s nothing quite like youthful years, especially when reflected back upon later in life. There exists a certain simplicity to not knowing about larger problems that end up surfacing and coming up as people grow older, and almost anything seems possible. “My Golden Days,” the new film from noted French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin, simplifies its original title, “Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse” (Three memories of my childhood), and finds anthropologist Paul Dédalus (Mathieu Amalric) moving on to the next stage of his career and completely entranced by formative moments from his teenage years.
As he leaves Tajikistan, Dédalus is stopped by airport police who question him about a few discrepancies from his past. A perplexed and nostalgic Dédalus recalls the influential scenes from his childhood and young adulthood that led him down the path he took. The film shifts to introduce an adolescent Dédalus (Quentin Dolmaire), who, after growing up early due to the mental conditions of his parents, begins a lengthy and complicated relationship with the alluring Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet) while exploring his intellectual interests.
There are many adventures to be found in the life of the young Paul Dédalus, including a school trip to the USSR involving a side mission to smuggle passports to Soviet Jews looking to escape oppression. The nature of his relationship with Esther, which begins as less than warm but turns into a deep, haunting love that is conveyed via letters back and forth and infrequent visits that go from casual to furiously intense within moments. Dédalus’ story is a fantastical one, and his long-running romance is just one of its many interesting parts.
Amalric has worked with Desplechin before in the wonderful “A Christmas Tale,” and though he isn’t necessarily the star here, the “Diving Bell and the Butterfly” actor does a magnificent job portraying the adult Dédalus. Dolmaire and Roy-Lecollinet are great finds, each embodying a tremendous youthful energy that also shows them to be wise beyond their years while having no true grasp on what really awaits them later in life. This film isn’t necessarily a series of vignettes as its French title would suggest; instead it’s a collection of reflections neatly woven into a very compelling and engaging narrative that doesn’t lead to an entirely fulfilling resolution but is still hard to shake or forget once it’s come to its end.