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AURORE gets 5/10 Light entertainment

Directed by Blandine Lenoir
Starring Agnès Jaoui, Thibault de Montalembert, Pascale Arbillot

5/10

The hot flushes are not the only change of life that Aurore (Agnès Jaoui) finds herself undergoing. Recently divorced, even more recently unemployed, and soon to become a grandmother, she feels that she is being pushed to the margins of society, and all that she has done in her life doesn’t amount to much as far as the wider world is concerned. However when she meets an old love (Thibault de Montalembert), Aurore becomes reinvigorated, and motivates herself to push for something more.

A light character study, with what should be an empowering message looking at overcoming aspects of sexism, ageism and class (to a lesser extent), Aurore is hamstrung by the gentleness of its approach. Despite the short run time, the story seems to meander. Rather than having a strong narrative to engage the audience, Aurore instead relies on the charming nature of the titular character to draw you in.

This almost works, due to a charismatic turn by Agnès Jaoui, but it is scuppered by the ending. It’s climax derails the argument in a way that director Blandine Lenoir doesn’t seem entirely cognisant of, giving characters motivations that run contrary to the film’s goals of empowerment. Nor could it be seen as a nod to realism, due to the almost fantastical convenient timing of it (falling squarely into the realm of many romantic fictions).

The end result appears a little aimless, despite the strong themes and obvious message of a society that still needs to address an undervaluing of “home duties” and the knock on effect this has on an aging female demographic that is still reliant on work for income (something Australian homelessness statistics suggest is increasingly relevant here).

Despite this there is some fun to be had with Agnès Jaoui’s performance, and her interactions with the collection of misfits that constitute her friends and family. The gentle comedic elements actually work rather well, although it is a little too slight to anchor the entirety of the film on, despite allowing us to see some reflection of Aurore’s past life in her daughter’s current situations. It’s a film that so obviously wants to say something more, and in that regard it just doesn’t quiet have enough punch for the message to resonate.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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