December 3, 2016 -- In a series of flashbacks, an anthropologist recounts his travels and his love life from youth through middle age. He begins and ends this journey in great emotional pain, first, anger at his mentally ill mother, and later, anger over a friend's betrayal. In between, those golden years.
Paul Dédalus (played by Mathieu Amalric of the “Grand Budapest Hotel”) is detained in Tajikistan because of a passport problem. This leads to a story about how another person ended up using Paul's passport to escape from the USSR years earlier, and how he somehow lost touch with an old friend.
Paul's stories inevitably circle back to a girl he used to know. He is still carrying a torch for her. Her name is Esther (played by Lou Roy-Lecollinet) a beautiful girl Paul knew during his school years (Paul is played as an adolescent by Quentin Dolmaire). The romance between Paul and Esther continues off and on for six years as Paul makes his way through college and graduate school.
Paul and Esther come together and drift apart over the years, having affairs with other people, but always coming back to each other. Esther turns out to be somewhat fragile. She doesn't do well on her own, while Paul is able to adjust to the monkish life of an impoverished student.
When Paul is away, Esther hooks up with other men, but when Paul returns from school, she returns to him, but there are more serious breakups from time to time. Esther has a lot of emotional difficulty during Paul's absences. At one time, one of Paul's friends takes advantage of Paul's absence with Esther, enraging him.
No matter how much Paul and Esther want to be modern, emancipated, carefree, and have an open relationship, there is still stress, jealousy and pain in their relationship which flares up from time to time. They deeply love each other, but can't seem to manage to find a way to live together for any extended period of time.
This all finally comes to a head when Paul, now much older, confronts the friend who betrayed him and who took advantage of Eshter's emotional vulnerability. All the anger hidden inside suddenly pours forth in a white hot torrent. What had been unsaid for so long, is finally said, and it is not pretty.
Lou Roy-Lecollinet, Mathieu Amalric and Quentin Dolmaire all give great performances in this emotional roller coaster of a movie. The story itself seems a bit disjointed at times, but it works well enough because of the strength of the main characters. This film rates a B.
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