Restless (2009)
"L'insurgée" (original title)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maurice Reverdy
Claire Reverdy
Clément Roussier ...
Rachid Hami ...
Swann Arlaud ...
Claude Duneton ...
Fabrice Adde ...
Marie-Pierre Chaix ...
Pascal Joly ...


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Release Date:

30 December 2009 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Le bel âge  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


€2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

The restless age, and restless old age
17 February 2010 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews

Laurrent Perreau's Le bel âge is a coming of age story with a failed love affair and a swimming competition, but most of all it's a mood piece about an old man and a young girl, his lonely granddaughter, who share a French château and reluctantly discover they have things in common. A dodgy structure explains the only fair-to-good reviews the film has received in France since it opened at the end of 2009. Despite a disjointedness as "restless" and unfocused as its young female lead, the film's still a sensitive dual character study, and it nails the pain of young romance.

At 17, Claire, an orphan who lives with her grumpy old grandfather, Maurice, is training for swim races but goes to a club late at night to meet or avoid boys. She walks over to Thomas to avoid two other boys and makes him pretend they're friends. This intimacy makes Thomas fall instantly in love with her.

When Claire leaves the club after her first meeting with Thomas she has a bike accident, cuts her head, and discovers Maurice's dog, Morphée, has been killed on the road. The sequence is symbolic, perhaps of the harshness and isolation of her and her grandfather's lives; it's an opportunity to show how stubborn and independent Claire is. Thomas works at a casino "spying" on people by watching surveillance camera monitors behind the scenes and she gets in the habit of hanging out with him there.

But Claire is like Maurice, her lonely grandfather, though she goes so far as to hide under the bed at times to avoid contact with him. She's used to fending for herself and feeling abandoned emotionally; Thomas' romanticism is a bit much for her. In time, she breaks his heart. And then she realizes what a terrible mistake she has made.

Meanwhile though Claire is not in school, her swim coach Rafaël (Eric Caravaca) is teaching her how to use her emotion and avoid spooking herself with too much mental analysis before matches, and her times, though irregular, are improving overall. Though not as rich in atmosphere as those in Céline Sciamma's 2007 film about girl swimmers 'Water Lillies'/'Naissance des pièvres,' 'Restless'' swim and coaching sequences are convincing.

The talented young Pauline Étienne (Claire) is a surprisingly good match for the cinema giant Michel Piccoli (Maurice). Unfortunately most of the time they are not in the same film, until somewhat artificially this spry man has a fall and is hospitalized for a while, as a result of which he winds up telling Clair the true story of how he got a bullet in his shoulder long ago. The revelation creates a deeper bond.. A mysterious brooding role is assigned to Piccoli here that he takes on very well, even if the unhappy old guy on an estate is a bit of a Eurofilm cliché by now (more fully developed with Trintignant's character in Kieslowski's 'Red'). Who Maurice is, what his WWII experiences exactly were, how he got here, are unexplained. He has only one friend, a hooker named Madeleine (Johanna ter Steege), who gives him (slight) sexual satisfaction and comfort; but he rejects even her. Still a good role for Piccoli, now 84 but very much alive; he even does a charming little turn performing Yvette Gilbert's classic Belle Époque song "Le Fiacre."

'Restless' is beautifully photographed by Céline Bozon, who also did two other Rendez-Vous 2010 films, Kahn's 'Regrets' and Axelle Ropert's 'The Wolberg Family'/'La famille Wolberg.' Understated as it is, the film surprises with its rich mise-en-scène, which jumps from swimming pool to château to Thomas' flat to nightclub to gambling casino, and people appear without being identified in an interesting way, especially people associated with Thomas, who indirectly reveal that despite his love of poetic prose passages and dreams of romantic idylls, he's not the loner Claire and Maurice are. With its mix of physicality and the ethereal this movie occasionally evokes Claire Denis, though without quite the warmth.

The real French title 'Le bel âge,' The Best Age, is doubly ironic, since the focus is alternately on the torments, isolation, and uncertainties of two periods of life, adolescence and old age, neither of them seen as particularly happy, though the story ends with an embrace and an exploration.

'Restless'/'Le bel âge', also known by its introductory title "L'Insurgée" (The Rebellious Girl) opened in Paris December 30, 2009 and was shown as a part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center, March 2010.

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