How I played … (my sex life), Arnaud Desplechin – 1996

Currently presented in the Directors ‘ Fortnight at Cannes, THREE MEMORIES OF MY YOUTH is a prequel to How I Played… (my Sex Life). However, there is no need to have seen the previous game to be able to enjoy the eleventh feature film from Arnaud Desplechin. We find the character of Paul Dédalus (Mathieu Almaric while sober) who back in France, after years spent in Central Asia in the framework of his profession as an anthropologist, remembers snippets of his past, which was forged as a man. He remembers especially of Esther, his first and only love.

Arnaud Desplechin is not known for the simplicity of its scenarios and THREE MEMORIES OF MY YOUTH is no exception to the rule. His film still keeps this format a bit unstructured with many flashbacks as in Jimmy P., his previous film. The fragments of history seem to be reconstructed a bit random but eventually they form a coherent whole.

Split into three chapters to be very uneven (the first two lasting just over a half-hour in total), the film takes the time to introduce his hero in the first two, to show his naivety, his innocence, his humour, sometimes tinged with bitterness, a young boy endearing simply.

The director makes us get into the story little by little. But as soon as we see Esther, the way Paul looks at her, the way he devours his eyes, he let himself be caught up in this love story. Esther is far from being a beauty, and yet it magnetizes the look, the one of Paul, but also ours. The ambivalent relation between the two young teens is exploited as rarely to the cinema. The alloy of tenderness and infidelity assumed, the torque is consumed in the fire of passion, while keeping intact as on the first day of his love.

THREE MEMORIES OF MY YOUTH, this is the story of a sincere love, to flower of skin, as it has too little in the habit of seeing.”

Separated and seeing little (Esther is still in high school in Roubaix, while Paul studied anthropology in Paris) their love is challenged. They communicate by writing, on the phone, permanently. Esther, a young teenage girl in a fragile and neurotic do not support this separation and folds in on itself or deceives Paul to pass the time, finding the joy of living in his presence. But as tell Bob his cousin, “She loves you”, he knows, she knows, and bearing inexorably, everything becomes more complicated.

The director roubaisien a portrait of a love that is obsessive, destructive but terribly sincere. All those little looks, the dialogues, the moments of joy, of abandonment, of suffering, of the film with an ease that will leave you breathless. It focuses on the characters, their emotions, their gait, their words, their vagrancy, he reveals the facets of the most intimate of their personalities and lays bare in front of his camera. The provision of the two young actors is breathtaking. Quentin Dolmaire , and Lou Roy-Lecollinet are simply exceptional. He is reserved and gentle, she is proud and brittle, but when they are together, their respective personalities are erased and melt into a complicity passionate and carnal and sensual exquisite. In spirit, it recalls the sublime badlands of Terrence Malick.

Arnaud Desplechin is definitely a developer little ordinary. While we thought we had seen it all with him after the excellent Esther Kahn and Leo playing “in the Company of Men”, his film still has the capacity to surprise us. THREE MEMORIES OF MY YOUTH, this is the story of a sincere love, to flower of skin, as it has too little in the habit of seeing. We want more !


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