As I was checking the upcoming movie releases, the third cinema adaptation of a book from Frédéric Beigbeder caught my attention. This reminded me of the first novel I read from him, “L’amour dure trois ans” (Love lasts three years). It was published in 1997, but I read it much later. I was maybe 17 years old, and 20 when it was adapted for the big screen in 2012. I still remember going to the cinema after my classes at university with one of my best friends. We enjoyed it so much, while going out of the screening room with an unpleasant feeling of despair – something I experienced to a lesser extend with the book.
Frédéric Beigbeder, a pleasure to displease
Since then, Frédéric Beigbeder became my favourite author, although this caricatural melancholic dandy has everything to raise disregard. Despite belonging to the mundane world, he criticises the rough backstage reality using his particular dirty and provocative style. His books are all about this permanent and intriguing self-criticism. “99 francs”, one of his most famous books and first movie, sets the perfect example: he criticizes the advertising business, although he used to work in this sector. His main characters are always unreasonably self-centered, in an excessive pursuit of the postmodern lifestyle. He gets inspiration from, and could be compared to other renowned authors such as Michel Houellebecq, Ernest Hemingway, or Bret Easton Ellis.
Love has an expiry date: three years
Accurate satire of the modern world we evolve in, “L’amour dure trois ans” is the only romantic comedy of Beigbeder. He is obsessed with trying to answer the question: “What is love in the 21st century?” According to him, pure and sincere love would not last more than three years for three main reasons, which are clearly exposed both in the book and the movie:
- With time, one doesn’t love anymore: the routine has been settled and love turns unnoticeably into affection
- Escaping love, in fear to see it running away: the mistrust and fear of being disappointed leads to the self-punishment of escaping first
- Flirting with disaster: the sensation of loneliness and boredom, resulting in new temptations and a distraught need of feeling loved
In those three cases, lasting love is condemned from the very beginning, as if solitude would be the only remaining solution for those disenchanted characters in a modern society.
The main character, Marc Marronnier, book reviewer and writer, brings a specific added value to the book, and especially to the movie. Gaspard Proust interprets the disillusioned and cynical hero wonderfully, in a funny and elegant way. We can all find a bit of ourselves in the dark and dirty thoughts he shares with the audience.
In my opinion, the topic of the criticism is relevant and in line with Beigbeder’s personality. Unfortunately, like in many cases, the movie doesn’t convey the pessimistic tone of book enough, so that it is similar to any current romantic comedies. I was a bit disappointed with how the story ends – which I am not going to unveil! The author doesn’t stick to its provocative style until the very end; I was expecting a much darker conclusion. However, If putting the book into its contextual background in 1997, the whole story was in fact predictive.
The ideal duo Beigbeder / Proust:
Beigbeder’s new movie “L’idéal” (from the book “Au secours pardon” and continuing the story of “99 francs”) will be released in France on 15 June 2016. This criticism of the fashion and beauty industry pushes the satire way further, almost to a too caricatural extent. Gaspard Proust has been given again the main character’s role. It seems like Beigbeder and Proust were made to form a fantastic duo – one appalled by the advertising industry and the other one by the banking sector. Beigbeder’s philosophy has indeed many common features with what Proust conveys: nostalgia and anti modernism.