Photos courtesy of Cohen Media Group.
While I went in having some idea of what to expect, the new French film Driving Madeleine, had some surprises. Everyone has a story to tell, and in a taxi with a stranger, sometimes we can have candid conversations. This low-key road trip film of sorts explores themes of timing, hard choices and consequences, and the importance of empathy. The film is directed by Christian Carion (of Academy nominated Joyeux Noël.)
As the film opens in Paris, Madeleine (Line Renaud, Dirty Money, Cop or Hood), a beautiful 92 year old woman with the most striking blue eyes, seeks out a cab ride to bring her to a retirement home. Her driver Charles (Danny Boon, Welcome to the Sticks, Nothing to Declare), is stressed with financial woes, seen making various phone calls. He perks up a bit when his dispatcher offers the prospect of a good fare. Madeleine wants to make a few stops en route to her final destination, says he can keep the meter running.
Madeleine’s elegance belies quite a troubled past. She recalls her teenage years (portrayed by Alice Isaaz) swept up at the end of WWII in a brief coming of age romance with an American soldier that finds her with child. Working as a theatre seamstress and as a single mom, she later marries Ray (Jérémie Laheurte). After enduring years of his abuse, Madeleine takes a stand that starts a cascading effect of harsh consequences.
Renaud and Boon have a natural chemistry together and forge a bond, with some sweet laughs thrown in. Charles’ ability to listen to Madeleine at this pivotal point in her life serves as a reminder that sometimes we need to get out of our own head a bit, and be a little more empathic. Driving Madeleine opens Jan. 12 at Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th Street, quadcinema.com. It will also open in Los Angeles at the Landmark Sunset in West Hollywood. The film release will extend to 80 markets worldwide Jan. 19.