Driving Madeleine, a film by Christian Carion is a subtitled love letter to Paris starring Line Renaud (Call My Agent) and Danny Boon (Welcome to the Sticks). Line Renaud plays Madeleine, an exquisitely beautiful and ballsy 92 year old woman with a tragic storyline who is still smiling after all the heartache and difficulty she’s suffered in her life. She is driven (very indirectly) to her retirement home by Charles, a disillusioned taxi driver with a heart of gold that just takes a little bit of digging by his passenger to emerge. She tells him that her father always used to say “each moment of anger ages you, each smile makes you younger.” Certainly when Charles does smile, it’s a splendid one that changes his face completely.
Between them, they forge a lovely relationship as the story flits back and forth in time, essentially telling her story whilst stopping at key places around the city. It’s very sweet and moving and somewhat profound, given his life is in disarray, but she’s managed to survive the most horrendous experiences and still sees the world as a beautiful place. She’s most definitely a survivor, not a victim and she offers just the joie de vivre he needs to reboot his life and see the positives for what they are, whilst he offers her more than a cigarette along the way.
They only have a day together and it’s quite a big ask to get us to believe that their friendship will change lives to the extent that it does. You do feel his sadness when he finally does drop her at her new home, but she’s certainly managed to crack a hard nut more easily than most! Her story of the treatment of abused women and the ultimate message in feminism is powerful, without being bitter.
An easy to watch style of storytelling, with some serious topics to contend with, but told with humour and poignancy and I enjoyed it.
DRIVING MADELEINE is in UK cinemas from 17th November