Driving Madeleine (‘Une Belle Course’)

COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 31min (French with subtitles)

STARRING: Line Renaud, Dany Boon, Alice Isaaz

Time out: Renaud and Boon

Gearing himself up for another disappointing shift, Boon (Welcome to the Sticks) is gloom-sunk as 46-year-old Parisian taxi driver Charles, who is going nowhere too fast with a measly two points left on his driver’s licence and the attitude problem of a man perpetually expecting the worst. When Charles agrees to drive Madeleine (fellow Sticks alum Renaud) all the way across Paris, he is motivated solely by the money he urgently needs. Being in a mood to reminisce, Madeleine, who is 92 but looks years younger with her periwinkle eyes and pretty smile, has other, chattier ideas. There’s nothing left for her to lose, after all: although her mind is razor-sharp and her spirit is playful and free, her body is getting the better of her and this taxi ride will end at the doors of the nursing home she emphatically wants no part of.


The grande dame’s forensic recollections of calamitous love and loss, fluidly shared in extended flashbacks by director and co-writer Christian Carion (L'Affaire Farewell ), with a soulful Isaaz as young Madeleine, are as present as the ageless boulevards down which she and Charles are driving. Her tempestuous history will further prove an awakening for Charles: as trapped by the pressure of circumstance as Madeleine is in her susceptible flesh, the curmudgeonly driver is equally eager to escape. Not only is he completely won over before the end of the day (and how could he not be — Line’s sparky heroine is something else), but his time with Madeleine will shift his perception of what can be possible, awakening in him a more realised version of himself.


No question about it, tears will be shed.