Blandine Lenoir / France / 2017 / 89 mins
Part of the French Film Festival UK 2017
It’s hard to believe that this is only director Blandine Lenoir‘s second film. Aurore (or Fifty Springtimes) follows its title character: a menopausal mother and soon to be grandmother adjusting to the changes of life relating to her body, career and children. It’s an honest reflection and celebration of the resilience of womanhood, femininity and the enduring relationships that are formed between women at all stages of life. Witty, moving, real and very, very funny, this is well-written, well-acted and well-directed.
Hollywood is lauded as the pinnacle of the film world, yet so often lags behind European cinema which has long been making films like this, in which real women take centre stage. It’s effortless; not a forced attempt at bridging the equality gap, just a natural response to the truths of life, transcribed onto the big screen. It’s always so refreshing – and as an audience, so much more satisfying – to experience relatable female characters who aren’t size 6 models.
Often deeply touching and packed with big laughs, this is a feel-good quality rom-com which takes the fear and loathing out of ageing. One of the most joyous moments comes when an elderly lady in her seventies or eighties full of zest and zeal comforts a sobbing Aurore and tells her about the most intensely passionate physical relationship she ever had – three years prior. The pervasive message projected from society usually tells women that we are “past it” or “over the hill” by a certain age, but here we are shown that actually the very opposite can be true and the best can be yet to come.
The male characters in this are warm, too, and the piece shows a kindness in all the relationships – even in the jolly interactions between Aurore and her estranged husband. All characters have fun and a playfulness to them, mingled with an earthy truthfulness.
A film about hot flushes and struggling to find work post-fifty may not sound like the most exciting prospect, but Aurore is both highly entertaining and thought-provoking. While some of the Hollywood elite are under scrutiny for sexual harassment and the subjugation of women, French cinema is quietly, naturally, gently and genuinely leading the way with films like this.