Driving Madeleine, french movie, Dany Boon, Line Renaud

Driving Madeleine: the things that matter

The older I get, the smaller I prefer my movies. So this month’s release of Driving Madeleine was right up my alley. But even as small movies go, this one is tiny. Set in a Paris taxi, with a disaffected driver, Charles (Dany Boon), and Madeleine (Line Renaud), his 93-year-old passenger who’s determined to do anything rather than reach her destination, the close atmosphere could easily have bored or annoyed.

Quite the opposite. This is such a special, heart-warming story – brace yourself – even Rotten Tomatoes loved it!

If you are lucky you, too, will have met or currently have a Madeleine in your life. (My Madeleine is my mother, Betty). That special older woman who has met the vicissitudes of life with courage, humour and kindness. That woman who simply won’t let life’s cruel blows wear her down. And 93-year-old Line Renaud fits this role like a glove. A truly compelling and beautiful woman, the camera adores her as well.

When they first meet, Charles is strung out about how he might cover his family bills. He’s reluctant to borrow but won’t be able to make ends meet despite the long hours he spends behind the wheel of his cab. As the day progresses, however, he is exposed to bigger issues and different ways of dealing with them.

Enough said, there’s no point in spoiling a delicate plot.

There is another star in this movie, of course, and that’s La Belle Paris. During the course of the day Charles and Madeleine’s peripatetic journey manages to encompass many memorable glimpses of this timeless city. It may be intended as a backdrop to the main story, but I’m not sure Paris ever willingly takes second seat.

Treat yourself to this gentle film. It’s about things that mattered and things that matter still. A true gem.