Young lovers, the review: if passion has no age

The review of the sentimental film The young lovers: Fanny Ardant and Melvil Poupaud protagonists of a love story in which adultery and age difference take over.

But you and I are still breathing the same air … so let’s take advantage of it!

The young lovers: a close-up of Melvil Poupaud

The celebration ofamour fouthe cornerstone of so much French cinema from the Nouvelle Vague onwards, and the contemporary declination of the stylistic features of melodrama: these are the coordinates at the basis of the fourth feature film by the director and screenwriter Carine Tardieu, that is to say the object of our review of The Young Lovers. A film deliberately and fiercely ‘classic’ in the way in which, by telling a love story that is as lightning as it is unconventional, it leverages the codes of melody, however renouncing stylization in favor of an approach closer to the realism of everyday life. And it is precisely the details of everyday life (a forgotten passport in the bathroom, a lost bunch of keys, the shopping delivered to the home) that characterize the meeting and the relationship between the two protagonists of the work, the oncologist Pierre Escande and the architect Shauna Loszinsky.

L’amour fou between Melvil Poupaud and Fanny Ardant

Les Jeunes Amants

The young lovers: Fanny Ardant and Melvil Poupaud

On the other hand, one of the concessions to the canons of melodrama is the prologue: a background that takes place in a hospital corridor fifteen years before the events narrated, when the paths of Pierre and Shauna cross for the first time, under the sign of the fatality of illness and mourning. The archetypal combination of love and death thus acts as an imprint in the relationship between the two characters, who will find themselves three decades away in a suggestive landscape of the Irish coast, thanks to their mutual friend Georges (Sharif Andoura). 45-year-old Pierre has the good-boy face of Melvil Poupaud, which in cinephile imagery is linked to Eric Rohmer’s Summer Tale, but also to the cinema of François Ozon and Xavier Dolan; the seventy-year-old Shauna, on the other hand, could only be cloaked in the timeless charm of the eternal “lady next door” Fanny Ardant.

Fanny Ardant in Rome 2019: our meeting with the diva next door

A Second love updated to our times

Les Jeunes Amants 2

The Young Lovers: An Image by Fanny Ardant

In The Young Lovers, the unexpected passion between the protagonists is framed by the concreteness of the daily routine: Pierre lives in Lyon with his wife Jeanne (Cécile de France) and their two children and is very committed to medical research (in allegorical sense, he fights against sickness and death); Shauna is divided between the stormy loneliness of Ireland and the more familiar and bourgeois dimension of Paris, environmental correlatives of her dual soul: that of an instinctive and passionate woman and that of a more prudent mother, grandmother and widow. The sentiment, as per tradition, will prove to be the crazy variable ready to upset and renew the lives of both, in spite of the obstacles: Pierre’s family duties and social conditioning with respect to the age difference in the couple, reaffirmed by antiphrases in the title .

Les Jeunes Amants

The young lovers: Melvil Poupaud and Fanny Ardant

The screenplay, co-written by Carine Tardieu together with Sólveig Anspach, Agnès de Sacy and Raphaële Moussafir, therefore reworks the model of Douglas Sirk-esque melodrama, in particular Second Love, favoring an internal focus and thus highlighting the sense of tenderness and empathy towards the characters.


The story of The Young Lovers thus proceeds along well-tested tracks, and consequently devoid of innovations or turning points that are not already foreseen (including the onset of Shauna’s disease), but always managing to keep one step away from the register of the tearful ; a merit, the latter, also to be attributed to the balance of the two main performers, perfectly capable of restoring the heartbeats, uncertainties and hopes of the protagonists.

Because we like it

  • The delicacy and attention to detail with which Carine Tardieu stages a quiet melodrama updated to our times.
  • A narrative balance that allows the film to avoid excesses and discord.
  • The intense and convincing interpretations of Fanny Ardant and Melvil Poupaud.

What’s wrong

  • The substantial predictability of a script that does not differ from the conventions of the reference genre.

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