Review: 2 Autumns, 3 Winters

Thursday, 12 June, 2014

If you aren’t already afraid of turning 30, French director and screenwriter Sébastien Betheder is set to change that. His latest film 2 Autumns, 3 Winters will have you fighting to grasp your youth while you still can.

2 Autumns, 3 Winters follows three thirty-something year olds falling in and out of love. Trying to embrace this new phase of life, each character is both shocked and regretful at how their youth has passed them by.

Thirty-three year old protagonist Arman (Vincent Macgine) decides to make a change to his uninspired life by going for regular runs in a local park. Looking like Bill Bailey on a bad hair day, Arman meets the beautiful Amélie (Maud Wyler) while exercising and falls for her immediately. Over the course of two autumns and three winters we witness a series of dates, double dates, stokes, serendipitous meetings with former lovers and former colleagues, and mundane trips to the supermarket. As these scenes unfold, the film paints a picture of life past the big three-zero.

Each scene is literally numbered, like chapters in a book. This eclectic exposition of intertwined moments reveals the unexpected in life in both joy and sadness. In an underwhelming and stylised way, akin to the work of Woody Allen, the characters are frequently seen to self-narrate their conversations and describe their feelings directly to the camera—often speaking the polar opposite of the other party involved in the conversation.

In a repeated motif, each of the male characters meets their love-interests during unfortunate incidents. It is a bittersweet irony that only through suffering does something good seem to come to the hapless hommes—all in spite of the attempts of Arman and Benjamin (Bastien Bouillon) to control their own destinies

“I had trouble appreciating the vast landscape before me,” Amélie says exhaustedly. Perhaps this is the line that best encapsulates 2 Autumns, 3 Winters’ contention about growing-up and facing life post 29.

Despite intermittently offering brief moments of humour and glimpses of hope, it is unfortunate that Betheder’s directorial creativity is at the expense of strong storytelling. Experimenting with the medium, the film alternates between grainy 16mm footage and High Definition, producing a semi-autobiographical tone. However, one cannot help but feel that too much effort has been placed in making the film seem cutesy and indie, rather than allowing viewers to emotionally engage with the characters on a deeper level.