26 September 2023

Driving Madeleine

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Director: Christian Carion, Rialto Distribution.

It’s hard not to smile as you watch Driving Madeleine. It’s not only poignant, but also touches on the subject of ageing.

We all have to face the question about getting old one day: what will happen to us or our parents when they get old? The story of Madeleine, 92, leaving her home to go live in a care facility evoked some disturbing considerations.

When taxi driver, Charles (Dany Boon) reluctantly takes on an early-morning booking, he begins to regret his decision even more so when a cantankerous old woman, Madeleine (French screen legend, Line Renaud) is waiting begrudgingly at the pick-up point. Despite his own personal grievances, Charles begins to realise that his problems are nowhere near as hard-pressing as those of his client.

She must bow to the pressure of family and doctors, waiting to be forced into an assisted living facility. With a day at her disposal, she intends to drag it out for as long as possible, indulging in her final hours of freedom.

Most of the scenes take place in the taxi, and though it was a journey filled with wistfulness, the performance by both actors kept it appealing. It’s also a leisurely drive through the streets of the French capital. Feels like you are on a holiday, as you pass not just the obvious landmarks – the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe – but diverse, picturesque districts of Paris!

As the journey unfolds, so does the story of Madeleine’s long and eventful life – guiding the audience through her most monumental experiences, from romance to earth-shattering heartbreak. It tugs at the heartstrings.

A seemingly simple taxi ride across Paris evolves into a profound contemplation on the actualities of the driver (a huge romantic), whose personal life is in chaos, and his fare, an elderly woman whose warmth belies her scandalous past.

  • Driving Madeleine is in cinemas on 22 June

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