Arts & Entertainment

Olivier Assayas says ‘Something in the Air’ not about nostalgia

“For anybody who lived through the ‘70s, there was something very moving about it,” said  director Olivier Assayas about “Something in the Air.” His stand-in is teenage Gilles, swept up and alienated in France’s turbulent protests (Lola Créton plays Christine, a girlfriend).
“For anybody who lived through the ‘70s, there was something very moving about it,” said director Olivier Assayas about “Something in the Air.” His stand-in is teenage Gilles, swept up and alienated in France’s turbulent protests (Lola Créton plays Christine, a girlfriend).Credit: TULLIO M. PUGLIA (LEFT); SUNDANCE SELECTS

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To French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, contemporary movies about the 1970s tend to be either sentimentalized evocations of the era or mocking rebukes that caricature the naive idealism, fractious politics, and curious cultural artifacts of the decade. But with his freewheeling new film, “Something in the Air,” a semi-autobiographical work based on his own artistic and political coming-of-age in turbulent early-1970s France, Assayas feels neither nostalgic about the faded era of his youth nor dismissive of its idealistic hopes and dreams.

“People really believed in the fut ure. They really believed in the fact that one generation could transform society and build a new world, which is a crazy utopian idea to think about today,” said Assayas, in an interview last fall while in town for the New York Film Festival premiere of “Something in the Air.”

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