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The Age of Reason

Liza Dezfouli

MADMAN: This French Film Festival favourite stars Sophie Marceau as a high-powered business woman whose rediscovery of her childhood dreams throws her life off track.
The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason, a French Film Festival favourite, is a stylish, sweet movie about a business woman confronted by her childhood dreams.

Sophie Marceau plays hard-nosed corporate high-flyer Margaret, who was once the vividly imaginative child, Marguerite. Margaret, who lives and works with her English partner, Malcolm, is far removed from the child who had to deal with being abandoned by her father, poverty, and her idealistic mother’s lack of practicality.

As a child, Margaret was musical and creative, writing a series of letters to her 40 year old self, trusting to the village magistrate (Michel Duchaussoy) to deliver them when that birthday arrives. He remembers, although she doesn’t, and his arrival with the parcel of letters and tapes disrupts her frantic existence with an unwelcome reminder of her past.

Margaret comes across as something of a brat to start with. We see how she is shaken by the meeting with her childhood self but it doesn’t explain her initial rudeness to either the notary or her childhood sweetheart, Philibert, with whom she reunites on a rendezvous they arranged over 30 years ago. Sophie Marceau is a hugely expressive, lovely actress; we’re obviously supposed to find her adorable but this reviewer couldn’t care less whether her character ‘found herself’ or not.

If you look at the film simply it positions city versus country, art versus business, old fashioned values versus progress and modernity, and so on. At the end Marguerite leaves the wheeling and dealing to Malcolm while she finds a cause she believes in, even employing the childhood friend, and all is resolved. Ho hum. Partner Malcolm, played by the divine Marton Csokas (Celeborn in Lord of the Rings) is way too smooth, agreeable and well-spoken to believe in.

The quaint, beautifully structured imaginative scenarios fall flat; you can see the film working silkily to arouse the viewer’s sympathy but it is too neat, too pat, too cutely done. The scene where Margaret’s red umbrella contrasts against a sea of black umbrellas is one example of its obviousness. The Age of Reason is meant to be a feel-good film, but I didn’t feel much at all.

Rating: Three and a half stars

The Age of Reason
Directed by Yann Samuell
Starring Sophie Marceau, Marton Csokas, Michel Duchaussoy, Julietter Chappey
Available to rent or buy through Madman Entertainment
Rated PG

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Liza Dezfouli has been reviewing film, live performance, books and occasionally music for over a decade. She writes a blog under her own name and another, somewhat less-measured one called WhenMrWrongfeelsSoRight. She creates work for the stage herself every now and then and can occasionally be seen in shows or in short films. For more: