Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
French writer-director Arnaud Desplechin delighted Cannes audiences with this new classic – a fresh, richly individual memoir of youthful adventure, friendships, and formative first love. Devotees of Desplechin’s My Sex Life will recognise this film’s central couple, seen here in the earliest phases of their relationship, but no acquaintance with the earlier movie is required to get totally caught up in this one.
“The French title translates to ‘three memories of my youth’. The first two chapters are short, dispensing with the boy Paul’s childhood and recounting a too-odd-not-to-be-true late-80s high-school smuggling mission to Minsk. The third chapter, which constitutes the bulk of the movie, focuses on Paul (Quentin Dolmaire) as a student and his courtship of Esther (luminous newcomer Lou Roy-Lecollinet). A magnet for every teen guy in town, Esther is nonetheless drawn to Paul’s idiosyncratic style. (No one else has tried to win her attention by teaching her how to play the board game Go.) Their burgeoning relationship, its separations bridged by letters, will haunt him for decades.” — Ben Kenigsberg, RogerEbert.com
“This is a rich and literary film, full of warmth and life and sadness and humor, loving all its characters without necessarily showing them to be good people… Desplechin’s assembled a remarkable young cast, almost all of whom are newcomers. It feels like a new generation of talent emerging who’ll likely be cropping up in French cinema for decades to come… It’s written, shot, cut and performed with such palpable joy, intelligence and warmth that it ends up feeling entirely fresh.” — Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist