Review / ‘Aurore’ (M) ****

Agnes Jaoui as Aurore.

BLANDINE Lenoir may not be the best-known of women directing films in France, but what she has done here is a lovely examination of a woman past reproductive age but not yet past living life fully.

In a medium-sized coastal city, Aurore (Agnes Jaoui) lives with her two adult daughters, one of whom is pregnant. She’s having what the screenplay by Anne-Francoise Brillot and Benjamin Dupas describes as hot flashes. The restaurant where she works has a gung-ho new owner who wants customers to call her Samantha. Her close friend Mano (Pascale Arbillot) is a man not to be taken lightly.

The plot unhurriedly follows Aurore during an unremarkable summer, mothering her daughters, managing her finances, consulting an endocrinologist who explains what her hormones are doing about menopause. Does this sound dull? It’s gently hilarious and very informative. Then she bumps into Totoche (Thibault de Montalembert) her teenage boyfriend before she married Nanar (Philippe Rebbot) from whom she is now divorced.

At this point, you might be forgiven for looking ahead and expecting a familiar outcome. But no. We are about to follow her through a minor cavalcade of experiences – job, parenting, a lover.

The film’s destination is not that obvious. Aurore gets a job as caretaker for four women sharing old age and a household economy funded by their pooled pensions. Here she finds answers to some of the questions bedevilling her as she negotiates menopause, on the way to an enigmatic conclusion to a film that relishes and admires women who have reached a certain age but are not yet ready for the scrap heap.

“Aurore” rang familiar bells for me. I liked it a lot. It has great charm throughout. Sequences where Aurore finds congenial work among restaurant waiters who perform songs from opera are delightful, as is Agnes Jaoui’s performance.

At Palace Electric

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