Originally published September 22, 2011 at 10:05 PM | Page modified September 23, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Movie review

'My Afternoons with Margueritte': time well-spent

A movie review of "My Afternoons with Margueritte," a little gem of a French film about an elderly woman (Gisèle Casadesus) and a giant lump of a working man (Gérard Depardieu) who meet on a park bench.

Los Angeles Times

Movie review

'My Afternoons with Margueritte,' with Gérard Depardieu, Gisèle Casadesus. Directed by Jean Becker, from a screenplay by Becker and Jean-Loup Dabadie, based on the novel by Marie-Sabine Roger. 86 minutes. Not rated. In French, with English subtitles. Metro.

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It takes a special skill to make a film feel as soft and light as a summer breeze, and yet that is what French director Jean Becker accomplishes with "My Afternoons with Margueritte," a glimpse into the everyday of two ordinary lives.

This little gem is all about the nature of chance encounters and how they can change us in unexpected ways. The one on which this story hangs begins on a park bench in a small French village. It is a place patinaed by the years, as are the two main characters, a fragile woman named Margueritte and a giant lump of a working man, Germain.

For both, their encounters in the park become a respite from the troubles of their lives. She's about to be moved from the comfort of the residential facility where she's been living, her family no longer willing to foot the bill. He's locked in a lifelong struggle with the profound insecurity that comes from a mother who always pegs him the fool.

They are an unlikely pair. The refined and erudite Margueritte is portrayed with a simple grace by Gisèle Casadesus, who was 95 when the film was shot. An oversized Gérard Depardieu is the coarse and little-educated Germain. Yet their connection is immediate, as Margueritte begins to read to Germain from her book.

Solace comes from sharing ideas and emotions — Margueritte giving Germain the courage to not only read, but also to think, and Germain taking the time to become her friend.

The film is a reminder of the pleasure to be found in simple things — reading a book, sitting on a park bench with a friend, spending an afternoon with Margueritte.

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