Well made and interesting, but not exactly my sort of film.

Bright Days Ahead is an odd sort of film for me to review. On one hand, I adore foreign films–particularly French ones. But, on the other, I am hopelessly conservative when it comes to marriage and relationships. I am happy I married my first and only love…even after nearly 30 years. Because of this, some of the themes in the film don’t resonate with me at all…though, I will still admit that I thought the film was well made and worth a look.

Caroline (Fanny Ardant) is going through a major transition in her life. Her best friend recently died and Caroline has just retired from her dental practice. Figuring out what to do and who she wants to be is the subject of this unusual film about aging. When the film begins, she’s going to a local senior center to take some classes…hoping that something will pique her interest. However, her first several attempts are not particularly satisfying and she’s very tentative. But, in the process, she ends up finding something she did enjoy…another man. And, he’s a much younger and handsome man. While this isn’t usually a serious problem, Caroline is married and having an affair could ruin her marriage or bring on other unforeseen consequences. Not surprisingly, she eventually does have an affair–though the consequences on her and her marriage are probably not what you might expect.

I liked some aspects of a film quite a bit. As a retired guy, I can relate to how difficult it might be making some huge life changes. In my case, it worked out well–but it IS a major change and is a bit like a loss. The old you is dead and you need to create a new you. I also appreciate that the film shows a 60-something woman as a very sexual and sensual being. Too often, films seem to be giving us the message that sex and love pretty much end by middle age. While this isn’t overtly said in films, think about how often movies, particularly big-budget Hollywood films, have older folks in sexual relationships–unless it is perhaps a comedy. And, how many show these older people as vibrant, real and sexy? Well, Bright Days Ahead does…and this is something I really appreciated.

On the other hand, as I mentioned above, am very traditional. Because of this, the notion that affairs are okay or even good is something that troubled me–especially since I have known folks who were seriously harmed by their partner cheating on them. I would have enjoyed it more had the film shown these negative consequences or had Caroline been single. Instead, the film left me feeling uncomfortable…and why I cannot recommend it without some reservations.

Setting aside my misgivings for a moment, I cannot ignore that the film is well made and interesting. The acting is quite nice and the film does make you think. Worth seeing…just don’t believe in its message too much–especially since people so often get hurt.

Martin’s Grade: B

by Martin Hafer