Foreign films carry a risk of being appreciated simply because they’re not in English. Needing to constantly read and also comprehend the events gives some movie-goers a strange sense of superiority. Of course, there are also those who close themselves off from great cinema because they don’t want to read for 90 minutes. With any film that proudly displays not having English as a native language it’s always important to consider- if it were in English, would I give it as much credit as I do?
Step in I Got Life!, the tale of Aurore (whose name is the original French title) hitting the menopause hard and coming off the back of a split with her husband. She’s about to become a grandmother and the inevitability of growing old is taking quite a toll on her mind. There’s the relatable story, it simply has to be executed properly.
Spoiler: it isn’t. Aurore is a woman fearing old age, fearing having no worth. She’s lost her job- technically through fault of her own- and her daughters are growing past the stage of needing her as much. This is something which holds water as a plot. People inevitably get older and feel they are devalued by society but the way this movie approaches the subject feels off and this is largely because it comes close to realising the mistake it’s making.
Aurore doesn’t have an inspiring moment of realising she has self-worth and can be strong on her own for a while. She needs a man and dreads being worthless without one. At one point, there is a scene which mentions how women are seen as only valuable so long as they produce children and are with someone…and that is exactly what the film is saying. The main character is robbed of loving herself and it feels almost cruel, even if she does get the man in the end.
Too many things are happening at once for any of them to have particular resonance. It’s a shining example of ‘because movie’. Characters just appear, disappear and find themselves involved heavily in Aurore’s life. Fine, that’s how the world works sometimes, but we’re viewing this through Aurore’s lens. People tend to have a better grasp of what people are doing around them. We don’t have quick jump cuts to our own lives.
In its heart, I Got Life! wants to be an uplifting tale of life after what society may deem a woman’s ‘death’. In reality, its good intentions are hidden behind sloppy editing choices, predictability begging to be a surprising but that has no impact on the story anyway and a message that’s not so uplifting- a woman can find value if she’s having sex after menopause. Would this be appreciated in English? It’s exactly the kind of trope that’s annoying audiences.
Dir: Blandine Lenoir
Scr: Blandine Lenoir, Oshen, Jean-Luc Gaget
Cast: Agnès Jaoui, Thibault de Montalembert, Pascale Arbillot, Sarah Suco, Lou Roy-Lecollinet, Nicolas Chupin
Prd: Antoine Gandaubert, Fabrice Goldstein, Antoine Rein
DOP: Pierre Milon
Music: Bertrand Belin
Runtime: 89 minutes
I Got Life! is out now