A traveling man (Mathieu Amairic) is stopped in customs and recounts his life. Paul tells a short story about a strange trip to Russia that involved a bit of espionage, and that story segues into his college years and Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet), the love of his life. Quentin Dolmaire plays Paul for the majority of the film, a charming, somewhat hazy love story based on an older man’s memories and perhaps laced with idealistic remembrances.
The love story, set to a soundtrack of eighties music and filmed authentically by director Arnaud Desplechin, is a good one. The framing device seems a little hokey at first, but upon reflection, actually works well. Dolmaire and Roy-Lecollinet make for a convincing young, unsure couple whose courtship is interrupted by youthful dalliances and long trips apart. It’s all a little confusing at times, but the two performers make it all very worthwhile.
Amairic has little screen time, but he makes the most of it, especially in a scene near the end when he confronts an old friend about complications involving Esther. Is Paul just a crazy guy remembering a girl that didn’t love him as much as he loved her? Is he just blowing things up in his mind now that he’s had distance from her over the years? What’s that beginning scene between him and a woman all about?
It’s one of those movies that doesn’t answer all of the questions for you. You just make of it what you will.