Sunday, 22 June 2014

REVIEW - BRIGHT DAYS AHEAD (MARION VERNOUX)


Covering potentially melodramatic terrain with a feather-light touch, Marion Vernoux's Bright Days Ahead is an amiable romantic drama, but its lightness, and the plot's wayward trajectory, consign the film to an inevitable future as a forgotten piece of French fluff. As yet another Gallic adultery drama, Bright Days Ahead is notable only in that it features Fanny Ardant in what has been marketed as a return to the big-time for one of cinema's most compelling, seductive figures; otherwise, it's of scant value, contributing little to an already-overstuffed sub-genre of cinema. Vernoux attempts nothing in the way of stylistic individuality, leading to an unflattering feeling throughout that all this has been done before, and much better, and quite possibly with Fanny Ardant in one of the roles. The graceful actor performs with exquisite poise and perceptiveness, as ever, communicating a plethora of emotions and emotional motivations in a film that's lacking in such depth in all other regards. She plays on her innate watchability, never overstepping her mark and overwhelming the film - perhaps to its disadvantage, in the end - but puts considerable work in to her characterisation, as evidenced by a strong scene in which she plays inebriation considerably more convincingly than most actors are capable of. Vernoux's camera seems to thrive off Ardant, as though she is its sole source of energy, and indeed Bright Days Ahead would be a lacklustre, lethargic trifle of a film without her. It even seems dedicated to her stardom, like Vernoux has intentionally stripped her film of anything of interest in the service of her star. The scenario she inherits from Fanny Chesnel's novel, however, provides her with little inspiration, and Bright Days Ahead dribbles its way through it from there.