The festival also sheds a spotlight on the marvellous Catherine Deneuve with a special launch of four films starring Deneuve. There's a restored version of Donkey Skin (1970) a fantasy musical; followed by three dramas. Hotel America (1981); Farewell to the Night (2019); and Happy Birthday (2019). Be sure to catch the reigning queen of the French screen.
In La Belle Époque, Victor (Auteuil) is a tech-phobic cartoonist going through a bad patch in life, both professionally and personally. His work is disappearing in the age of Internet dominance and his psychotherapist wife (Fanny Ardant) Marianne can't stand him. Life dips into the past when Victor is handed a gift from his son to Time Travellers; a company offering a unique service where customers can revisit memories and play out fantasies through carefully orchestrated re-enactments.
With the present not going so well for him, Victor dips his toe into the past, requesting a very specific 16 May 1974 date to revisit and relive the most memorable week of his existence in a Lyon bar, 40 years earlier when he met the love of his life.
There's a dual story running here with owner and orchestrator of Time Traveller, Antoine's estranged wife playing the role of Victor's love interest. Emotions of control, jealousy and love fly through the film as it touches on possibilities of Victor simply falling in love with the imposter; or will the young actor as Marianne revitalise his marriage. The story shifts in an out of reality and fantasy quite cleverly, at times tricking you into thinking it's reality, but perhaps it's not; or is it?
The one who shines is Fanny Ardant who plays the disgruntled wife and mother that battles her dual emotions of abhorrence and guilt. She's the strong, assertive woman who happily hands out a tongue lashing and doesn't shy away from being assertive and she performs it convincingly. A depressed Auteuil is a state that he knows well how to project. However, no matter the powerful stars, this comedy-drama doesn't hit either of the walls of both genres. It's not funny enough to be a comedy, nor is it probable as a drama. It's all a little farcical; however, you can form your own opinion