You know exactly what to expect from veteran auteur Robert Guédiguian, Herehe teams with spouse Ariane Ascaride for the 19th time in this mournful reflection about the irrevocable changes that time wreaks on both places and people. Frequent collaborators Gérard Meylan and Jean-Pierre Darroussin additionally reunite and Guédiguian poignantly repurposes a chunk of those younger trio from 1986’s Ki lo sa? To reveal how far they’ve drifted in the carefree people they had been earlier disappointment and responsibility sapped their energy and optimism.
Despite just being forced to retire, Joseph (Darroussin) tries to cling to what is left of his childhood by relationship Bérangère (Demoustier), who’s old enough to be his daughter (as, really, Demoustier was in Anna Novion’s Les Grandes Personnes and Guédiguian’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro). By comparison, Ascaride interrupts the attentions of fisherman Benjamin (Robinson Stévenin), that has been in love with her since seeing her to the point in Marseille. However she has other emotional issues to address, as she’s never managed to forgive her now insensible dad for allowing her young kid to moan while in his or her care.
As surely as the wave laps against the quayside, Guédiguian and co-scenarist Serge Valletti find answers to these emergencies in a way that cynics might discover fanciful. Buteven though the unexpected passing of an older Arabian couple as well as the sudden arrival of three legged children might appear a bit contrived, the exemplary outfit takes every episode in its stride and sustains the mild strain of left-leaning realism which is now Guédiguian’s signature.
Pierre Milon’s shimmering cinematography guarantees that the Calanque de Méjean provides an atmospheric setting for those musings on convention, memory, depopulation, course and defying era, together with the last sequence under the echoing arches of the railroad viaduct being indescribably beautiful.