My Afternoons with Margueritte

By Moira Sullivan 
Gérard Depardieu and Gisèle Casadesus

My Afternoons with Margueritte stars French actor Gérard Depardieu, who plays Germain Chazes, a man with a scarred childhood. Because of his weight problem, he has been teased and ridiculed all his life in the provincial French village where he was raised by a single mother. Despite these emotional setbacks he has a beautiful young girlfriend played by Sophie Guillemin – somewhat unrealistic because he is twice her age, yet twice his age is a kindly, elderly woman whom he truly enjoys conversations with – Margueritte, played by the 96 year old veteran French actress Gisèle Casadesus. Margueritte is a well-read scientist and she opens doors to this illiterate adult man who has been the butt of jokes all his life. He lives in a trailer in the garden behind the house where he grew up with his mother. The emphasis on the film is the friendship that develops between Germain and Margueritte -  not your usual on screen relationship, and for that reason the film has a warm feel.
The film flashbacks to painful experiences the young Germain endures by a snotty teacher, but there are also scenes of humiliation with his mother who also is vicious in her insults. But when she has a boyfriend who hits both her and Germain she is quick to set him straight to not hit her boy, and stabs the boyfriend’s thighs with a pitchfork, who goes limping away. Later Germain is able to make sense of his mean mother and learns to love her. But his biggest attachment is to Margueritte, who is going blind and is kept in an expensive nursing home by her relatives. The contact is mutual especially when tough decisions have to be made when Margueritte is moved to Belgium by her family.
The film is directed by veteran French director Jean Becker who is known for his handcrafted films with charm about memorable meetings in life, such as The Children of the Marshland  from 1994 set during WW1 where a young officer stumbles upon a cottage owned by a 92 year old man.
© 2011 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 09/21/11 Movie Magazine International