As ruminations on nostalgia continues to ubiquitously spread across the cinematic landscape, it is inevitable that these stories become increasingly high-concept. Nicolas Bedos’ La Belle Époque is one such film, however, the high-concept is more or less the film’s totalizing statement on nostalgia. In fact, it could be argued that nostalgia is little more than the thematic window dressing for a film that delights in its thrills, but lacks the voice to be truly great.
In the prevailing forty plus years since their first meeting, Victor (Daniel Auteuil) and Marianne (Fanny Ardant) have grown to as part as they once were close. When Victor is thrown out of their posh apartment, he hires a Time Travellers, a service for the rich that specializes in exact recreations of historical time periods that its clients can freely roam around in. Victor asks them to reset the date to the early 70s, where he and Marianne first met, where he can relive those early days alongside actress Margot (Doria Tiller).
Bedos’ film is almost entirely built in its parallel editing. There is a lot going on in La Belle Époque, and this film manages to juggle its healthy number of interweaving storylines. Yet, it is so filled with plot points that it lacks a genuine thesis outside of its creative ingenuity. There is a high level of craft here, and the film itself is a tremendously enjoyable joyride, but its highs may prove just as fleeting as a waltz into the past.