Memory is mined in Arnaud Desplechin’s My Golden Days, a coming-of-age melodrama, about an anthropologist called Paul Dédalus (Mathieu Amalric/Quentin Dolmaire) recalling his childhood and adolescence, his adventures and misadventures. Though divided into three sections—”Childhood,” “Russia,” and “Esther”—My Golden Days asymmetrically focuses on the last part, named “Esther” after Paul’s first love (Lou Roy-Lecollinet). Paul is a paragon of twee: he travels to Minsk to help Russian refuseniks, he hops from hostel to hostel, he doesn’t do drugs but scores them for his friends, he seems grounded yet harbors a reservoir of pain and disappointment, having had a stint at a mental asylum. The movie’s twee sensibility makes it charming but Lithiumed out: its highs are never too high, its lows are never too low. It gets too cute with the editing and gets sluggish in the third act. Its great virtues are its satisfying, bitterly funny finale and its natural, sensuous portrayal of sex, which may be typical of French film but is virtually absent from American cinema. 

In French & Russian.

By Alec Julian & Carrie White 


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