La Belle Epoque Ending Explained (In Detail)

Spoilers Alert:

Director Nicolas Bedo’s romantic dramedy La belle époque is overflowing with original ideas, offers excellent visuals and a whole host of brilliant actors, led by Daniel Auteuil. We’ll reveal in our review whether that’s enough for an extraordinary cinema experience.

Here he remembers once again what it was like to fall in love with his wife…

The plot summary

Victor (Daniel Auteuil) is a retired cartoonist and a cynical grouch. With his penetrating negativism, he gets on the nerves of everyone around him; especially his wife Marianne (Fanny Ardant). That’s why she’s had a lover for a long time and finally throws her husband out of their shared apartment. Which isn’t a big surprise for him. He just longs for the 1970s anyway. An era in which he was young, successful and in love. A voucher from the “time travel” organizer Antoine (Guillaume Canet), which he received as a birthday present from his son Maxime (Michaël Cohen), comes at just the right time. Antoine’s company uses elaborate sets, actors and a detailed script to arrange realistic illusions for their wealthy clients – regardless of whether they long for ancient Rome, the times of Louis XIV or their private past. Victor chooses the moment when he met Marianne, who in the production is played by Antoine’s friend Margot (Doria Tillier). Victor likes the depiction of May 16, 1974 so much that he wants to experience it again and again until memory and staging, fiction and reality begin to inseparably mix in his head. Is there a way for him back to true existence?

La Belle Epoque Movie Meaning & ending

Anyone who has been watching films for a while will be reminded, at least to some extent, of “The Game – The Gift of His Life” by what Antoine’s company offers its customers. But while director David Fincher quickly steered his 1997 thriller with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn in a very dark direction, colleague Nicolas Bedos (“The Poetry of Love”) steers towards much lighter and wonderfully melancholic realms here. With the help of pointed dialogues, amusing gags as well as political and pop-cultural allusions, the Frenchman creates a masterpiece in what is only his second directorial effort, including unusual but consistently believable scenarios for the characters, who are characterized in an astonishingly efficient and complex way, right down to the smaller supporting parts.


Victor (Daniel Auteuil) longs to go back to the 1970s…

Daniel Auteuil (“Caché”, “The Brilliant Mademoiselle Neïla” ) obviously has a lot of fun with his performance – both at the beginning as a grumbling disgusting package and later with a seventies mustache while reminiscing about his favorite moments in the café “La Belle Époque” ( This is also the original French title of the strip). The noble Gallic mime is at his best when he portrays his previously obnoxious figure in the company of the beautiful Margot, interpreted with a generous dose of self-confidence by Doria Tillier (“Le Jeu – Nothing to Hide”) , her long-forgotten charm, humor and sex appeal can be found again. Auteuil portrays with absolute authenticity how a person who longs so much for the past, the “most beautiful time of his life,” can lose himself in such an illusion. Auteuil’s performance was rightly euphorically celebrated by audiences and press at the Cannes Film Festival. In addition to Tillier, it is framed by, among others, Fanny Ardant (“The Woman Next Door”) and Guillaume Canet (“Between the Lines”), who play equally brilliantly and never degenerate into mere staffage .

In addition, the script written by Bedos skilfully oscillates between the levels of action enriched by a few unexpected twists – the illusion in which Victor gets more and more lost, as well as the hectic, busy behind-the-scenes moments with Canet’s character as the director of the spectacle. Here, the viewer could always recall memories of Ed Harris and his character in the magnificent “The Truman Show”. At the time, without the knowledge of the title hero embodied by Jim Carrey, he pulled the strings as a master of improvisation behind the virtual curtain.

The visual aspect is of course also fundamental to the magnificent success of the story concept, which is quite daring due to its complexity. It is shot by Bedos with the help of cameraman Nicolas Bolduc (“The Hummingbird Project”) and his team mastered the juggling of the narrative and acting factors just as virtuosically. The subdued but warm lighting, the earthy colors and excellent equipment (sets, props, costumes) immediately transport the viewer to the 1970s – a time when it was completely okay to smoke in a restaurant or ride a moped without a helmet and in which love and life itself seemed somehow simpler. The result is a brilliant nostalgia trip that younger film fans can get into just as easily as their parents and grandparents. All (adult) generations should easily recognize themselves (and each other) in some moments and one or another figure.

Conclusion: Daniel Auteuil inspires in a romantic nostalgic trip with current appeal that is cleverly and cleverly written and photographed.

“La Belle Epoque” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from November 28th.

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