Film Review: Driving Madeleine (2023)
Reviewed by Vito Mattarelli
Cast includes: Line Renaud, Dany Boon
Director: Christian Carion
Running Time: 91 minutes Rated: MA 15+ Language: French (with subtitles)
In Cinemas from: 22 June 2023
- A heartwarming, gentle ride through the streets of Paris -
When Charles (Dany Boon), a Parisian taxi driver, reluctantly decides to pick up a fare from across town, his day soon changes. 92-year-old Madeleine (Line Renard) gently coaxes him into talking a little about himself and his life, while showing no hesitation in revealing some very personal details about her extraordinary history. She is in no hurry to end her last day of freedom and entices him to take her to the old neighborhoods she remembers so well, heading off on a journey that we soon discover is to an aged care facility.
Almost all of Driving Madeleine’s main storyline takes place across a single day as these two vastly different people discover an affinity for each other. Charles’ struggles to make a decent living soon seem mediocre compared to the dramatic and challenging turns that life has thrown at Madeleine.
Director Christian Carion (Joyeux Noel) delivers a well-paced film while drawing out lovely, understated performances from his two leads. Scenes in and around the taxi are effectively intercut with flashbacks of Madeleine’s story, evoking the mood of 1940s and 50s Paris, often punctuated by popular American songs from the era, performed by the likes of Etta James and Dinah Washington. Carion cleverly captures the chemistry between actors Boon and Renard, assisted by an original screenplay by Cyril Gely, allowing the marvelous Line Renard (now nearly 95 and regarded as one of France’s national treasures) the opportunity to create a performance that is a majestic swan song to an illustrious career.
Driving Madeleine is a heartwarming, gentle ride through the streets of Paris that reminds us that love and kindness can survive the trauma of tragedy and that it is possible for two very different individuals to find a life-changing connection.