REVIEW: My Golden Days

16 05 2017

Maybe I’m missing something by not watching Arnaud Desplechin’s “My Sex Life … How I Got Into an Argument” before heading into “My Golden Days,” since both films revolve around Mathieu Amalric’s Paul Daedalus. (I blame the film’s lack of streaming availability in the U.S.) With no prior attachment to a character who spends the entire movie reflecting back on how three childhood and adolescent memories shaped him, the film felt self-indulgent and even a little self-serving.

And of course, the thread that I found the most fascinating – where a teenaged Daedalus sneaks into the USSR to give a forged passport to a Jewish dissident – lasts about just 20 minutes. Desplechin doles out a disproportionate amount of time to Daedalus’ first bombshell romantic experience with Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet). From my perspective, this seemed like the kind of coming-of-age story we’ve all seen a hundred times.

The distinguishing feature of “My Golden Days” is that Desplechin frames these experiences through the lens of memory, in all the ways it softens the edges of and selectively omits from the historical record. It’s present both in the hazy narration of Daedalus and the techniques he uses, such as the early-cinema iris effect. But these memories were just that – memories – for me. If they were hinting at some kind of larger truth or grander developments in the Daedalus character, they were lost on this viewer. C+