national Arts Festival Banner

Monday, September 25, 2023



Review by Barry Meehan

The film Golden Years is part of The European Film Festival 2023 which runs from October 12 to 22, 2023 with screenings of all 16 films at cinemas in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and limited screenings in Durban, and online.


Country of Origin: Switzerland

Director: Barbara Kulcsar

Cast: Esther Gemsch, Stefan Kurt, Ueli Jäggi, Gundi Ellert

Genre: Comedy / Drama

Duration: 92 minutes

Language: German with English subtitles


Golden Years could probably be classed as a “coming-of-age” movie – not the normal teenager into adult, but a “coming of retirement age”.

Peter, who has worked all of his adult life at the same job, is not looking forward to the prospect of walking away from his familiar office into relative obscurity as a pensioner. At the same time, his wife, Alice, is anticipating a return to the closeness of their younger selves, something that has been sorely lacking in their relationship of late. At a retirement dinner for friends and family, Peter and Alice are surprised by Mediterranean cruise liner tickets presented to them by their son and daughter. While Alice sees the cruise as an ideal opportunity to put some sparkle back into their love lives, Peter views it as more of a hindrance to the routine he is slowly creating.

A good friend of Alice’s passes away unexpectedly, putting Alice in a potentially fraught situation, needing to decide whether she should inform the woman’s husband that she had been carrying on an affair in France for the last 15 years.

Unbeknown to Alice, Peter invites the grieving husband along on the cruise, not expecting him to take up the offer, but he does, creating a typical third-wheel situation, scuppering Alice’s plans for a romantic holiday.

It’s when the ship arrives in Marseille that Alice makes a decision that will change all three of their lives, and those of their children, plus a few others along the way.

Golden Years is a rather special film, with outstanding performances by Switzerland’s leading actors, in particular Esther Gemsch as Alice and Stefan Kurt as Peter. It’s a journey of self-discovery with many unexpected twists and turns, along with humorous and light-hearted moments, interspersed with honest insight into the trials and tribulations of what should be a normal and everyday relationship.

The movie is well-written and directed, with a wonderfully unexpected ending, and is genuinely worth viewing! - Review by Barry Meehan


Screenings take place at Ster-Kinekor’s The Zone in Johannesburg, and The Labia in Cape Town. Each film will screen once.

Ster-Kinekor Gateway in Durban will present a limited programme of films not available in the online streaming. Five of the most recent films will only show in cinemas: Anatomy Of A Fall, Goodbye Julia, The Old Oak, The Teachers Lounge and Mavka – The Forest Song. 11 films can be viewed for free online.

Visit for more information or click on the European Film Festival logo to the right of this article.