Movie Review: ‘Driving Madeleine (French)’

by | Jan 18, 2024 | Movie Reviews, Movies | 0 comments

Greetings again from the darkness. This film surprised me with two clear and valuable reminders. First, with a bit of effort, we can always have a positive impact on others – sometimes to the degree that we change their life. Second, everyone has a life story, and we only learn it if we take the time to ask and listen. Writer-director Christian Carion is known for THE GIRL FROM PARIS (2001) and the superb Oscar nominated JOYEUX NOEL (2005). With co-writer Cyril Gely, Carion delivers a heartfelt story of two people with seemingly nothing in common, crossing paths and making a difference.

Charles (Dany Boon) is a Paris-based taxi driver who feels his life crumbling ever so quickly. His marriage is on the rocks. His financial woes seem insurmountable. He’s one more traffic violation from losing his driver’s license, which means no driving a taxi, and of course, more money problems. His dispatcher calls and offers him a fare that would take him cross-town. At first Charles balks, but quickly remembers he needs the cash. Extremely annoyed when he arrives, Charles repeatedly honks his horn until an elderly lady assures him that she’s ready for the ride. In fact, it’s to be Madeleine’s (Line Renaud) final ride. A trip to the nursing home to live out her final days.

Appearing years short of her 92-year age, Madeleine requests Charles to drive her through the areas that were key to her life. It’s a life that has a shocking past and one that slowly emerges as her charms and warmth thaw Charles’ previously irritated demeanor. It’s fascinating to watch a bond … even a friendship … formed from this unusual day trip around the city. These two should share little common ground, but what we find is that people tend to respond to kindness and listening and sincerity. These two help each other in ways neither could have imagined.

Comparisons to Best Picture Oscar winner DRIVING MISS DAISY (1989) are understandable, yet Madeleine and Charles carve out their own movie niche, and we find ourselves liking each of them. Dany Boone starred in director Carion’s history-based JOYEUX NOEL (2005), and although he is best known for his comedic work, that film and this one proves his dramatic chops. Line Renaud began performing in the 1940’s and is a well-known singer in France. As a ‘sometime’ actress, she lights up the screen here as our beloved and spirited Madeleine. The ending may be a bit of a stretch (even though we see it coming), but the real joy here is watching these two connect as flawed human beings.

Progressive theatrical openings on January 12, 19, 26, February 2, 2024

David Ferguson
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