I Got Life!

 

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A French comedy that spotlights its female characters.

 
I Got Life!

Lou Roy-Lecollinet and Agnès Jaoui

 

Blanche Lenoir's second feature but the first to be released here is a good example of the genre to which it belongs. But that is not to say that it will readily gain a large audience here as it did in France. That's because this is a romantic comedy most likely to attract female viewers readily drawn to identify with the film's middle-aged heroine, Aurore played by Agnès Jaoui, and, being French, the film is, as it should be, subtitled. The potential problem in this country is that the audience who will most enjoy it is one that tends to dislike subtitled movies. That appeared to be the case with Bright Days Ahead, the Fanny Ardant vehicle of 2013 which belongs to the same genre as I Got Life! and not even the drawing power of Isabelle Huppert could make 2016's Souvenir a hit here since her admirers seem to want more cutting-edge works.

 

Lenoir's film was originally entitled Aurore after its central character whose marriage has come to an end and who is now experiencing the menopause. She has two daughters to consider: the married Marina (Sarah Suco) who is pregnant and the younger Lucie (Lou Roy-Lecollinet) who is discovering that first love does not run smoothly. But the big question concerns Aurore's future and what it holds: she has a loyal friend in Mano (Pascale Arbillot), but walking out on an arrogant employer leads to problems over finding fresh work. However, the central focus is on the possibility of starting a new relationship which will fend off her fears of growing old alone. As befits this kind of movie, she finds two men who might be the answer and not just one: Totoche (Thibault de Montalembert), who had actually been her first love as a teenager, and a sympathetic newcomer named Hervé (Eric Viellard). 

 

Intentionally lightweight but agreeably played by all and not outstaying its welcome, I Got Life! aims at popular appeal. If the tone is hardly sophisticated or subtle, Lenoir is nevertheless consistent in using this vehicle to engage with issues about women in later life which genuinely concern her. In the process she has created a film that is feminist in spirit yet not afraid to find humour in the extreme expression of such views. Only one episode misfires when a scene in a job centre with an employee who can never finish a sentence plays like a revue sketch. In any case, that is balanced by an engaging cameo from the late Iro Bardis who appears as a leading figure in the retirement home where Aurore eventually finds employment. As a work couched in a popular idiom, this film is successful in that it will undoubtedly appeal to the audience at which it is aimed. The title change may or may not be a wise move: it was obviously triggered by the film's use twice over of the song ‘Ain't Go No - I Got Life’ from the musical Hair. However, it may not seem wholly apt for the kind of film on offer here despite the fact that it is the case that this movie is asserting the fact that those who are approaching their later years have still got life.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Agnès Jaoui, Thibault de Montalembert, Pascale Arbillot, Sarah Suco, Lou Roy-Lecollinet, Éric Viellard, Iro Bardis.

 

Dir Blandine Lenoir, Pro Antoine Rein and Fabrice Goldstein, Screenplay Blandine Lenoir and Jean-Luc Gaget, from an idea by Blandine Lenoir, Ph Pierre Milon, Art Dir Eric Bourgès, Ed Stéphanie Araud, Music Bertrand Belin, Costumes Marie Le Garrec.

 

Karé Productions/France 3 Cinéma/Canal+/OCS-Peccadillo Pictures.
89 mins. France. 2017. Rel: 23 March 2018. Cert. 15.