Film premiere: La Belle Époque

Nicolas Bedos’ ingenious, gleeful, thoroughly entertaining second feature is both a clever throwback to the uproarious French farce tradition and an intelligent meditation on our (perhaps more bewildering) age. The time-traveling romantic comedy — in which an inventive theatrical troupe meticulously orchestrates historical reenactments — is infused with wit and devoid of the slightest technological gimmickry. La Belle Époque instead relies on old-fashioned stagecraft, an enthusiastic suspension of disbelief, a couple of old pros at the top of their game (the superb Daniel Auteuil and Fanny Ardant), and the young whippersnappers who are pulling the strings (the bewitching Doria Tillier and Guillaume Canet). Literally taking off like a rocket from scene one, the highly ambitious screenplay delivers on every level and is a beautiful illustration of the various stages of life, the bliss that swells in our hearts as we take that first blind leap into the abyss, and how this crazy thing called love evolves over the course of a lifetime.

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