My Afternoons With Margueritte [La Tete en Friche] Movie Review

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Small but perfectly formed, this unassuming French comedy is smart, emotionally engaging and often very funny. Essentially a coming-of-age story about a seemingly dopey middle-aged man, it's also a real charmer.For his whole life, Germain (Depardieu) has been told by his drama-queen mother (Maurier) that he's an idiot. So he has lived up to her expectations. But neighbours in his village loves his kind but bumbling ways. He spends each day at a cafe owned by his friend Francine (Maurane), getting involved in everyone's business. His bus-driver girlfriend (Guillemin) sees his better qualities, and so does Margueritte (Casadesus), a 95-year-old he meets in the park who, while reading books with him, quietly helps him see who he really is.The filmmakers occasionally give us flickers of Germain's past, with his dismissive young mother (Le Guernec) only very rarely showing any concern for his well-being. These scenes subtly fill in his back-story as we watch this fully grown (perhaps even overgrown) man explore his own intellect in a way he never thought possible. And the most interesting thing is that he doesn't seem to realise he's learning anything; he's just enjoying the rush of curiosity.Depardieu's acting is so offhanded that it seems like he isn't acting at all.

Then we remember that he has also recently played vicious, mercurial gangsters.

On the other hand, this is a beautiful depiction of a simple man who is beginning to understand his own complexities as well as some deep truths about those around him. Without ever being flashy, it's an impeccably pure performance. And the supporting cast members interact with him using raw humour and lively energy.

In many ways the film feels like a refreshing slap in the face, jolting us out of the hypnosis induced by bland Hollywood movies. The film simply feels alive to the possibilities around it, unafraid to be cute or heartbreakingly sweet but never becoming remotely sentimental. Filmmaker Becker clearly knows that life is made up of moments that are hilarious and earthy and sometimes painful.

And that sometimes it's the difficult things that teach us the most.

Cast & Crew

Director : Jean Becker

Producer : Louis Becker

Starring : , Gisele Casadesus, , , Anne Le Guernec, Maurane, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Matthieu Dahan

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My Afternoons With Margueritte [La Tete en Friche] Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: 15, 2010


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