Movie: My Afternoons with Margueritte
My Rating: 3 stars
Now, here’s another light, fluffy, French drama for you guys to enjoy while I’m away in France. By now, I’m probably down in the south, enjoying the countryside. And, believe it or not, this film is even more sickeningly sweet than the last movie. Get a load of this synopsis: an oafish, illiterate handyman, Germain (Gerard Depardieu), begins a sweet, little friendship with a highly educated, 95-year-old woman (Margueritte from the title). They first meet counting pigeons in the park (like old ladies like to do). At first the two don’t understand each other very well. Germain is course and uses foul language. Margueritte is refined and well read (if a little bit batty). But, little by little, the two get to know one another, and start to understand each other’s life experiences a little better.
Margueritte starts teaching Germain the joys of reading. And, Germain teaches Margueritte about the value of working with one’s hands, about learning practical life lessons, and about how important it is to respect even simple people. Sounds like an after-school special about overcoming prejudice, right? This movie doesn’t really get much more sophisticated than that. And, I’m guessing that the director didn’t really trust the audience to draw any of these conclusions on their own. The script spells out all the lessons pretty literally, and practically hits us over the head with the morals we’re supposed to come away with.
But, I guess the whole thing isn’t so bad. The movie isn’t claiming to be anything so great. It’s really is only intended to be a charming, little story about friendship. And, it accomplishes that just fine. I think the worst thing about this movie is how insulting it always is when an actor attempts to play “dumb.” They always overdo it in the most offensive way possible. Although, Germain does demonstrate his simple-mindedness by talking ideas through at his cat Jeremy. It’s actually pretty irresistible. So cute.
And, despite my many complaints, the film is actually very beautiful. It’d be hard not to be, seeing as how it’s set in a small, sunny village in the South of France. It looks like a great life. You’ve got uncomplicated, country folk, doing odd jobs, and spending the rest of their time, chatting in the local brasserie, drinking chilled white wine, and playing cards. That’d be a lovely way to retire. So, this film has lots of atmosphere . . . even if the story is a little silly.