Retour de flamme- 50 years old, instruction manual

Film. Comedy about mid-life crisis at fifty, new Juan Vera’s Argentinian film freshens the genre with humor.

By Lisa Muratore

Reading time 4 min.

Retour de flamme


Marcos (Ricardo Darin) and Ana (Mercedes Moran) have been married for 25 years and their son leaves the nest to study abroad. Their child leaving will make them question their couple and they agree on breaking up. But this fascinating and intense single life they were dreaming about turns out to be monotonous for one of them, and chaotic for the other.

It’s funny which allows
not to be too serious
and to turn it into a couple therapy

Juan Vera talks about mid-life crisis as fifty in a light and gentle way. Far from This is 40, for example, which dealts with this crisis thanks to Judd Apatow’s trash humor. More psychological, Retour de Flamme focuses on a couple unable to explain why their marriage is breaking up. Between the nostalgia of twenty years they’ve spent together and their regret not to have enjoyed a more libertine life, Ana and Marcos can’t help but wondering existential questions. And Ana seals the couple’s future when she confesses to Marcos that she still loves him, but she’s no longer in love.

Husbands,  wives, lovers
Clever comedy, Retour de Flamme represents this precise moment when we’ve halfway and we question our expectations. A theme loved by directors. Starting with the excellent American Beauty (2000) or The Beaver, in which Mel Gibson delivers a touching and depressing performance, led by Jodie Foster, far from the sarcasm present in Mendes and Kevin Spacey’s film.

We also remember the strip-tease in Full Monty (1997) and the synchronized swimming’s dance in the Grand Bain. Each one of these films staged mid-50’s men in unusual situations while analyzing their issues with empathy. While Eat, Pray, Love (2010) o the more recent Gloria Bell (2019), are female portraits of these same issues.

Juan Vera offers the possibiliy to have both points of view, the one of Mercedes Moran (lately seen in El Angel) and the one of Ricardo Darin (for the awarded film El Secreto de Sus Ojos, les Nouveaux Sauvages, Everybody Knows). Retour de Flamme gives the audience food for thought, even though it doesn’t give any answer. It deals with Tinder generation, the issue of unavoidable adultery after a 20 years marriage and post-divorce relationships. But it’s funny and that allows no to be too serious and to turn it into a couple therapy. A clever comedy which reminds us how much we miss Woody Allen’s cinema.

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