Directed by: #JennaSuru
Written by: Jenna Suru
Starring: Jenna Suru and #SébastienCipolla
The French film The Golden Age is Jenna Suru’s first feature and it opened the 2020 London Independent Film Festival.
The drama is set in 1967 France and it follows two young artists who meet in Paris. The French, theatre actress, Angèle, played by Suru herself, meets an independent film producer that has just come from Los Angeles, Sebastian, played by Sébastien Cipolla, and together they walk through the city, almost alluding to the walks in the Before Trilogy. Angèle and Sebastian talk about their hopes and dreams and realise that they have a lot in common, mainly a desire to create art and live through art. Eventually, Sebastian proposes they start working together to “change the world”.
The film is clearly a love letter from the director to the period that has birthed so many important artists. The film oozes beauty with its stunning locations, from Los Angeles, to Paris and Saint Tropez, and with its costumes. Indeed, the visual of the film is its strongest feature – there isn’t one scene where Suru’s character is wearing the same outfit. By watching the film we can tell that there was special care given to the art design and even when the actors are in location, the outside and the extras that come into the frame are dressed accordingly.
Another important aspect of the film was its technical endeavors. The sound design, especially the mixing and the score, raised the intensity lived by the hopeful young couple. The cinematography, however, felt frozen at times, relying too much on the 180-degree rule with an establishing shot and medium close-ups with action and reaction shots. Because the film focuses heavily on the diegetic art, it would have been interesting to see how the camera could have brought the film to another aesthetic level through camera movements or even different stationary angles.
The narrative, as I briefly mentioned before, is simple – two young artists have a dream to change the world through art and they must fight for what they believe and be strong to keep focus in moments when the easy way out presents itself. The problem here is that the stakes of the film weren’t high enough. Although the characters mentioned their ambitions, the contrived action failed to show us how sincere they in reality were. As a consequence, the characters and their intentions didn’t feel believable and it was difficult to engage with them.
The Golden Age is an exercise in style that, unfortunately, fails to change the world – as its characters strive so much to do.