Toronto Film Review: ‘Bright Days Ahead’

Lame humor and underdeveloped drama plague this trite tale starring Fanny Ardant as a woman having an affair with a man two decades years her junior.


Fanny Ardant, Laurent Lafitte, Patrick Chesnais, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Fanny Cottencon, Catherine Lachens, Alain Cauchi, Marie Riviere, Marc Chapiteau, Feodor Atkine.

Sixty-four-year-old Fanny Ardant has an affair with 41-year-old Laurent Lafitte in “Bright Days Ahead,” and that’s pretty much all there is to Marion Vernoux’s trite MILF tale. Lame humor and underdeveloped drama make little of the sexual-revival-in-late-life theme, instead simply placing all the chips on the femme star’s undeniable, undimmed glamour — though it hardly seems boundary-pushing that a younger man might desire someone like Ardant, who probably wears the same snug jeans size she did at 24. Pedestrian pic should prove an easy crowdpleaser for older fest auds and Ardant’s loyal fans, but this Tribeca Film U.S. pickup looks to be a minor item elsewhere.

Having abandoned her dental practice a bit ahead of schedule over a dispute with a colleague, and having lost her best friend to cancer recently as well, Caroline (Ardant) doesn’t really know what to do with her sudden surplus of free time. Two daughters, now married with kids of their own, get her a trial membership to the titular local senior center, which on a first visit she finds offensively condescending toward its clientele. But when her longtime spouse, Philippe (Patrick Chesnais), can’t figure out what’s wrong with his PC, she reluctantly returns to take a computer class.

She finds herself starting to enjoy the various activities offered (pottery, wine tasting, nature walks, etc.), as well as the new friends she makes there, none more than attractive younger computer instructor Julien (Lafitte), and after little hesitation, they embark on a secret, highly physical involvement. It doesn’t remain secret for long among the center’s bemused patrons and staff. Last to know — though her uncharacteristically giddy behavior and frequent absences tip him off soon enough — is Philippe, who does not take lightly this betrayal or his wife’s unapologetic response when confronted. Then again, Julien doesn’t seem a very reliable fresh-start alternative, as he admits to being a sexual free agent, disinclined to commit to any one relationship.

Popular on Variety

But Caroline never seems all that concerned about her future, her family’s feelings or anything else. She’s an elegant blank filled only by Ardant’s reliable star magnetism, just as Julien has little personality beyond the charm Lafitte brings to the role. (Playing the one character whose actions are more understandable than arbitrary, Chesnais gets default acting honors here.)

Breezy to a flyweight fault, in a fashion more careless than carefree, Vernoux’s feature (based on a novel by co-scenarist Fanny Chesnel) doesn’t build the sense that much is at stake here, and its comedy is mostly of the banal plucky-oldsters-not-acting-their-age variety. Routine assembly will lose nothing on the smallscreen.

Toronto Film Review: 'Bright Days Ahead'

Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Gala Presentations), Sept. 11, 2013. Running time: 94 MIN. Original title: "Les beaux jours"


(France) A Tribeca Film (in U.S.) release of a Les Films du Kiosque and 27.11 Prod. production. (International sales: Le Pacte, Paris.) Produced by Francois Kraus, Denis Pineau-Valencienne, Juliette Favreul Renaud.


Directed by Marion Vernoux. Screenplay, Fanny Chesnel, Vernoux, based on the novel "Une jeune fille aux cheveau blancs" by Chesnel. Camera (color, HD), Nicolas Gaurin; editor, Benoit Quinon; music, Quentin Sirjacq; production designer, Herve Duhamel; costume designer, Marite Coutard; sound (Dolby Digital), Michel Casang; re-recording mixer, Dominique Gaborieau; assistant director, Ariel Sctrick; casting, Richard Rousseau.


Fanny Ardant, Laurent Lafitte, Patrick Chesnais, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Fanny Cottencon, Catherine Lachens, Alain Cauchi, Marie Riviere, Marc Chapiteau, Feodor Atkine.

More Film

  • Father

    'Father': Film Review

    “Father” begins with a mother. Dragging her two sullen, uncomprehending kids along with her, Biljana (Nada Šargin) strides onto the grounds of the factory from which her husband was let go more than a year before and harangues the foreman about the severance package they still have not received. The children are hungry, she wails, [...]

  • Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm

    'Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street': Film Review

    In 1985, New Line rushed out a sequel to its breakout horror hit of the prior year. But while commercially successful enough, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” was initially disliked by mainstream horror fans, then later won cult status, for the same reason: It struck many as “the gayest horror film of [...]

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    HBO Seeks Dismissal of Michael Jackson Estate's Suit Over 'Leaving Neverland'

    HBO urged an appeals court on Friday to throw out litigation brought by the Michael Jackson estate over the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland.” HBO and the Jackson estate have been locked in a legal war ever since the premium cable network agreed to run the documentary, which chronicles child sexual abuse allegations against Jackson. The [...]

  • Denzel Washington

    Film News Roundup: Denzel Washington-Rami Malek Thriller Set for Early 2021 Release

    In today’s film news roundup, a Denzel Washington-Rami Malek thriller gets a release date, “Escape Room 2” gets moved, Paramount sets a double feature, “So Cold the River” wraps and the Sonoma Film Festival unveils its lineup. RELEASE DATES Warner Bros. has set the Denzel Washington-Rami Malek police thriller “The Little Things” for a Jan. 29, [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Writers Guild Says It Helped Negotiate 100 Deals for Agent-Less Members

    The Writers Guild of America has asserted that it has assisted in negotiating more than 100 deals in recent months for members without agents. The missive from the WGA West board of directors comes nearly a year after the guild leaders ordered their 15,000 members to fire their agents if the agents had not agreed [...]

  • the jesus rolls

    Émilie Simon Contributes Flamenco/Gypsy Vibe to John Turturro's ‘The Jesus Rolls’

    For French musician Émilie Simon, the flamenco-meets-gypsy vibe writer-director John Turturro was seeking for the soundtrack to his movie “The Jesus Rolls” turned out to be in her musical and genetical DNA. “This music originally comes from where I grew up in the south of France,” says the 41-year-old electronic musician, who has released five [...]

  • My Hero Academia Heroes Rising

    'My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising' ADR Director on Adapting the Anime for a U.S. Audience

    “My Hero Academia” has officially Detroit Smashed into North American theaters. Sony Pictures Television’s Funimation released “Heroes Rising” in the U.S. on Wednesday, grossing $2.5 million on its opening day. Theaters are showing the film, a standalone entry in the popular superhero anime based on the manga, with options for either subtitles or with an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content