My Afternoons with Margueritte follows an illiterate but kind man who strikes up a friendship with an elderly woman who teaches him the joy of reading and sharing novels. He learns to stand tall amongst his intellectual friends who make fun of him. Starring Gerard Depardieu and Gisele Casadesus.
French is a beautiful language, I could listen to people speak it all day, so it didn’t bother me that the film was subtitled. The film was fairly short, only running for seventy-nine minutes but any longer would have dragged on too much. There was no unique cinematography but the countryside that is displayed in the film is picturesque and timeless. The film feels that it could be set in the forties or the sixties or during any time period due to it’s universal themes, if it weren’t for the inclusion of one modern age vehicle the decade this film was set in would be unclear.
This film is nice. There isn’t really any other way to describe it. It makes you feel good and sometimes that is what an audience needs. There are too many films out there that try to make you feel good by using tired clichés to convey romance but the French have a way of opening a story to it’s full potential and create a romance that exceeds physical love. There are all types of love displayed in “My Afternoons with Margueritte”; the love of a mother (despite her resentment of you), the love of a friend, the love of a physical lover and the love for yourself. It shows how powerful every form of love is and how it impacts your life. The characterization shown is the most well achieved element in this film and the acting is subtle and brilliant.
The plot is simple. An man, alienated by his mother and his own ignorance toward the world, becomes friends with an elderly woman, with no children, who has experienced much through her tired eyes, they create a bond through literature and discover what they have both been lacking. After I left the cinema all I could take from the film was that every woman is maternal and that it would be a shame to die without sharing or feeling reciprocation from it. I gathered this from their interaction alone and the chemistry displayed. Two lonely people finding each other and finding happiness through their interactions, sounds romantic to me.
I came into the movie feeling as though I would be dulled by the notion that this was a drama. A drama centred around an illiterate man and an elderly woman, it seemed like it had been done before and I had no interest in watching another public service announcement, but I was pleasantly surprised about the originality of this picture, how it made me believe that Gerard Depardieu is as thick as stone and it made me laugh in a wholly innocent way. As a lover of literature myself I appreciate the power that it’s discovery would have on an impressionable mind, Gerard is like a child in this film and Gisele acts as his mother, guiding him through his discoveries. My Afternoons with Margueritte isn’t a film to excite you or shock you but it is a film that can be appreciated, take your mind from the depravity of Hollywood carnage for a moment and watch something that is just nice.
I give My Afternoons With Margueritte 3 and a half stars out of 5 its in Cinemas the 7th April.