DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Golden Years (Nos Anées Folles)

Director - André Techiné - 2017

"Filthy genius movie"
André Techiné celebrates 50 years of filmmaking with a five-star and five-splat film, impeccable in style and profoundly subversive in its subject - live from Cannes

QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM CANNES

Fifty years are neither 50 weeks nor 50 months. The French filmmaker André Techiné has directed more than 20 films in his career spanning five decades, and he has worked with the likes of Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Huppert. So the Cannes Film Festival, which is also having a big anniversary this year (add two decades; it’s 70th edition of the Festival), decided to honour the director with a special screening attended by no less than the three aforementioned ladies.

And as you would expect, the 76-year artist, possibly the greatest LGBT director alive, hasn’t disappointed us. Golden Years is a superb piece of filmmaking, exuding guile, vigour, elegance and subversive fragrances. As usual, he challenges expectations of gay relations, sexuality and national identity. The film tells the real story of the French WW1 deserter Paul Grappe (Pierre Deladonchamps) and his wife Louise (Céline Sallette). In order to avoid being caught, Paul disguises himself as Suzanne. He quickly and enthusiastically embraces his new identity and turns to prostitution in order to make ends meet and cater for his wife.

Paul/Suzanne seems to be fully bisexual, enjoying orgies and all sorts of sexual experiments with people of both genders, while still in love with his wife. She remains devoted to her husband despite his sexuality, which was extremely unorthodox for the times. At first, she seems entirely indifferent to his job and “perversions”. Eventually Paul/Suzanne becomes a cabaret act, but then the split identity begins to haunt and to suffocate him. Suzanne wishes to take over.

This plot will sound extremely familiar in case you watched the British-American drama The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper, 2016). The movie tells the (kind of ) real story of the transsexual Lili Elbe, who lived in Denmark at around the same time as Paul. Lili is played by Eddie Redmayne, who looks a lot like Deladonchamps. And Lili also had the love and support of his wife. But that’s where the similarities stop.

The difference is that The Danish Girl twisted Lili’s real story in order to a create an easily-digestible movie, and to make the characters more pallatable. The director opted to show Lili’s wife holding her hand as Lili died in his movie, when in real life she was remarried and living in another continent when Lili passed away.

Well, you wouldn’t expected a saccharine ending from Techiné. Instead, Paul/Suzanne becomes violent and unpredictable in his gender dysphoria. And Louise’s devotion to him turns into something else. Golden Years is not celebration of transgenderism. This is a study of human dysfunction, and the role of sexuality in power relations. No transgender person will wish to have Paul/Suzanne as a role model. The French director is not here to give us simple answer and to revere LGBT culture. He’s here to hit you in the face. And it’s gonna hurt.

No less important is noting that this Golden Years is a statement against war. Deserting is the ultimate act of treason against your nation. In this case, also against heteronormativity.

Golden Years is showing at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, which DMovies is covering live right now. The movie is not part of the official competition, and instead it was screened in a special session celebrating the 50 years of filmmaking by André Techiné.

Click here for our review of Techiné’s Being 17, from last year.



"Filthy genius movie"

By Victor Fraga - 22-05-2017

By Victor Fraga - 22-05-2017

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based writer with more than 15...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
A small family of four lives in a [Read More...]
Holidaying in Cambodia with Isaac (Ross McCall), Ben [Read More...]

Read More

Little Joe

Jessica Hausner
2019

Jeremy Clarke - 17-02-2020

The pod people are back! A single mum scientist breeds a plant that will make people happy if they nurture it, in a film with strong echoes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers - in cinemas from Friday, February 21st [Read More...]

The Public

Emilio Estevez
2020

Michael McClure - 15-02-2020

Homeless people in Cincinnati take over the local library seeking shelter from the bitter winter, stirring up tensions and raising moral questions - in cinemas Friday, February 21st [Read More...]

When Lambs Become Lions

Jon Kasbe
2020

Redmond Bacon - 12-02-2020

Who is the lion and who is the lamb in Jon Kasbe's fearless When Lambs Become Lions? The answer may surprise you in these even-handed elephant poaching doc, in cinemas Friday February 14th [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *