Written by Guillermo Troncoso. Screening at the 2014 Alliance French Film Festival. Click HERE for the festival schedule and to purchase tickets.
Bright Days Ahead tells the story of Caroline (Fanny Ardant), a recent retiree who joins a senior’s club. Not long after, Caroline begins an affair with Julien (Laurent Lafitte), a much-younger computer science teacher.
It’s a relatively simple plot, one that we’ve seen unfold dozens of time. Bright Days Ahead unveils the proceedings with a light-hearted approach, mixing well-natured humour into a character study that ultimately doesn’t have as much to say as it thinks it does.
Caroline is depicted as a bored older woman, a woman who wants to find herself after losing her best friend to breast cancer. At times, the film gives us a bit of insight as to this woman’s frustration at being retired. Her husband continues to work, so she is ultimately left to her own devices. Unfortunately, being a decidedly light dramedy, her actions are never really given weight, simply allowing her affair to unfold with little exploration as to what is driving her down this path. The aforementioned senior’s club serves more for laughs than anything else, with Caroline’s class-mates depicted as little more than a group of oddballs.
Interestingly, it may be Julien who is the most interesting character on display, and that’s saying something. As a womanising man who doesn’t quite match Caroline’s mental wavelength, Lafitte gives a convincing performance. Ardant is actually quite good as the lead protagonist, her expressive face giving her frustratingly written character a sense of depth and realism. Patrick Chesnais is also worthy of a mention, giving a restrained performance as Caroline’s husband.
Decent performances aside, the film leaves a lot to be desired. Bright Days Ahead is simply too relaxed for its own good, becoming a predictable tale of a woman chasing happiness and excitement. There are some amusing moments and certain dramatic notes hit home, but this dramedy is neither dramatic or funny enough to be anything more than a harmless, well-performed, and ultimately forgettable film.
THE REEL SCORE: 5/10