Driving Madeleine – Film Review

Palace Electric Canberra
From 22 June 2023
Rating: MA 15+
Running Time: 91 minutes
Directed by Christian Carion
Starring Dany Boon, Line Renaud & Alice Isaaz

The French do this sort of thing well, managing to tug our heart strings despite a somewhat predictable story. It comes down to the superb acting and the lack of sentimentality in telling a long life-story embracing both terror and romance.

Even in the darkness of this tale of loss and stoicism, there is humour and warmth.

When taxi driver, Charles (Dany Boon) reluctantly takes on an early-morning booking, he begins to regret his decision even more so his customer turns out to be a cantankerous old woman, Madeleine (Line Renaud).

At the age of 92, she must bow to the pressure of family and doctors and be forced into an assisted living facility. With a day at her disposal, Madeleine asks to be taken to various places of significance in her life, ending up at the care home.

Everywhere they go elicits a story from her past – love, loss, high drama, humour and tragedy are part of this long life.

Inevitably, Dany becomes close to Madeleine despite their brief acquaintance and a surprisingly deep friendship blossoms which causes him to rethink his own life and what is important.

In the tradition of the 1989 movie American Driving Miss Daisy (directed by Bruce Beresford), this film portrays the delicate relationship that develops between two people from vastly different backgrounds. The French have a particular sensibility in stories with such emotionally charged content, achieving subtlety, restraint and tenderness in equal measure.

We enjoyed this beautifully cast film very much. It was touching without sentimentality and addressed several important social issues including domestic violence, how women are treated by the justice system, loneliness, financial pressures on the working person and the challenges of ageing. It is also a salutary reminder that tempus fugit.

Bookings and information: https://www.palacecinemas.com.au/movies/driving-madeleine