Agnès Jaoui creates the wonderfully heartfelt character of ‘Aurore’, in a film about female solidarity, hope and love. As an alt rom-com based around the tribulations of menopause, it leaves the audience with warm flushes of happiness.
Aurore is amicably separated from her husband but having previously worked for his company she has lost her job and finds herself without qualifications. Her home is still a refuge for her two twenty-something daughters who have their own complicated love lives. Middle-aged, entering the menopause, and about to be a grandmother she is determined not to fall victim to the pitfalls of gender and age stereotyping. Aurore signs up to an employment agency and meets an advisor (gamely played by Laure Calamy) dealing with the same menopause symptoms, who decides to help her.
A well-played image in the film is the automatic doors to institutions that refuse to open for Aurore, as if she were invisible. According to Jaoui, Aurore is mourning the losses that come with menopause but she doesn’t indulge in self-pity and instead discovers female solidarity and the idea of intersectionality. Solidarity is underlined as a theme when she goes to work as a cleaner at the house of elderly women who’ve created their own commune based on sisterhood.
While the film addresses the gender wars, all men are not simplistically cast as the enemy. Early on in the film the man Aurore should have originally married comes back into her life in a beautifully bruised performance by Thibault de Montalembert. Aurore is now wise enough not to let the opportunity pass. However the main obstacle is the hurt he struggles to overcome from their break-up ater she carelessly abandoned him in their youth. The soundtrack is important to the film. Having seen Jaoui perform, the director inserted a dream sequence showcasing Jaoui’s own impressive singing talent. For Jaoui the relevance of music is in the rhythm. “Good actors have a sense of rhythm, humour and its delivery is also about rhythm,” she explains.
Jaoui read the script for the film just once and knew she couldn’t say no and it is her performance detailing an everyday life in flux, that makes Aurore special. While the script at times feels like a run of sketches on the thematic riff of solidarity, it successfully deconstructs preconceptions of menopause, turning it into a new beginning for Aurore and a tender and engaging journey for the audience.
Note: Relevant for a film about female solidarity, when screened at the IFI French Film Festival in Dublin the film was given an ‘F’ rating. The ‘F’ rating highlights the substantial contribution of women to the film industry. It was developed at the Bath Film Festival in 2014 and a number of cinemas, festivals and IMDB now subscribe to the initiative.