TIFF Review: “Driving Madeleine”

Driving Madeleine is perhaps France’s answer to Driving Miss Daisy. Let’s remember that Jessica Tandy won an Oscar for the latter film despite being up against France’s own Isabelle Adjani for Camille Claudel, which is one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen. Crowds just love old people being driven around, right?

Driving Madeleine starts off by painting the picture of Charles, a down-on-his-luck taxi driver played by France’s adored Dany Boon. By chance, he receives a call to pick up Madeleine (Line Renaud), an older woman who ends up reliving her whole life by talking to Charles.

In the very beginning, Charles drives past Norte Dame, whose reconstruction is still in progress, reminding us that places and things are often changing. Then, Madeleine begs Charles to drive through her old neighborhood in Vincennes, completely unable to recognize it due to the high-rise buildings.

The one thing that doesn’t change is the human condition. Madeleine and Charles’ chemistry, or rather Renaud and Boon’s is just absolutely beautiful. Of course, they have worked together previously on films including Welcome to the Sticks and Family is Family, so this is only another happy reunion.

It’s crowd-pleasing, but also faces serious issues like domestic violence and aging. One thing that bothered me is that Charles often held his phone while talking driving. But it’s a movie.

I give it 7/10.

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