I got life -film review

Film Review: ‘I Got Life!’, Directed by Blandine Lenoir. Starring Agnes Jaoui

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Menopause was the hot topic this week, when Picturehouse Central in trendy Soho was filled to bursting with women, ready to settle back and enjoy a film about self-discovery in middle age…

In a nutshell, ‘I Got Life’ is a subtitled French film about a woman’s experience of the menopause. Please keep reading… don’t let the words French, subtitled and menopause put you off. It is a lovely film; as warm, voluptuous and loving as the main character herself, Aurore, beautifully played by Agnes Jaoui. At the start of the film, the 50 year-old single parent Aurore finds herself unemployed, unexpectedly about to be a grandmother and in the throes of hot flushes to end all hot flushes. In Aurore’s life it doesn’t rain but it pours… mainly down her face and the back of her neck, as she spends much of the film peeling off jumpers and absent-mindedly fanning herself, in a charmingly unaware way. This is not an overheated cliché of a chick-flick, or an over-the-hill rom-com. Whilst there are nods to her invisibility as a woman of a certain age (in the shape of automatic doors that seemingly never register her presence), the men in her life are vividly aware of her, even if, as in real life, they come from an unwanted direction. In the panel discussion after this film, the question was raised: Can this story only be told in French - would it work as a British or American film? The resounding answer from the panel was as a British or American film, no, it would not have had the same space to breathe, and the chance to just let it be… If it were a mainstream film, Aurore would have taken up Zumba, gone on a diet, got her roots done and cut off her beautiful long hair, before strutting out of her tiny village a whole new woman, leaving her old life behind. But that’s not how real life is; there are children to comfort and hold and past mistakes to rectify, real life doesn’t allow for make-overs and strutting into the sunset and becoming someone else.

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The beauty of this gentle film is that a woman who has wholly and lovingly surrendered her life to her family and whose identity is so tightly interwoven with theirs that she cannot remember who she is any more, is allowed to slowly make that discovery on her own. She is allowed to simply be, and we are invited to observe and support, rooting for her from the shadows. Does she get life? I’ll leave that for you to discover, but I’ll let you in on one little secret: we all have life, sometimes we just can’t see it…