★★★★ | Bright Days Ahead

64-year-old Caroline has retired earlier from her dental practice than she had expected too after falling out with a colleague and she now finds herself at a loose end with too much spare time on her hands.

She feels somewhat depressed and disorientated after the death of her best friend from breast cancer just three months prior, and this has made her even more aware of her own mortality. Her two grown up children with their own busy lives, want to encourage her to move on and so buy her a trial membership to a local seniors club that has the innocuous title of ‘Bright Days Ahead.’

Caroline’s first nervous visit to the centre ends every badly when she feels patronised by the young woman running the drama classes, but when she gets home and neither she or her husband can work out their new wifi set up, she reluctantly agrees to go back and try the computer class instead. This is led by Julian an attractive 41 year old man who confides in her that he has a toothache and after Caroline takes him back to her ex-surgery to fix it for him, he returns the favour by making a pass at her.

It’s not exactly the main reason why this man, who is the same age as her daughters, wants to bed her as he turns out that he is quite the ladies man with a small stable of regular ‘dates’. But even when she discovers this Caroline is more happy to indulge in some very hot love-making as she and her husband had stopped being physical with each other some time ago.

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The secret affair brings more than colour to Caroline’s cheeks as it makes her extraordinary happy and gives her such a sense of purpose that she throws herself enthusiastically into most of the activities at the Club and becomes friends with all the other women there. When word eventually gets out about her daily dalliances in Julian’s office etc, her classmates are in awe and egg her on. However Phillipe her husband doesn’t take too kindly at being cuckolded especially as in this small coastal town that they live in, news like this travels very fast.

It seems like as a respected dentist, a loyal wife and a good mother, Caroline has always put the consideration of others first in her priorities, but now she has done a complete U turn and thought of nothing more than her own pleasure and happiness. With such a past track record, it’s obvious that she will end up doing the ‘decent thing’ in the end, but hopefully with the realisation that there is an alternative to the inevitable after all.

The movie has received criticism that it portrays a very unrealistic view of old-age greatly enhanced by the fact that Caroline is played by the strikingly beautiful and exquisite Fanny Ardant. One would never ever dream of calling this great French actress a senior citizen no matter what her age. It is her very presence that so radiates in every scene on the screen, and so I for one am more than happy for Caroline to indulge in this fantasy, no matter how unrealistic it may be.

A very light and enjoyable piece with one of THE grande dames of French cinema out from 20th June