'Driving Madeleine' Review
The French film “Driving Madeleine” is primarily about two characters. Madeleine is 92 years old. She gets into a taxi cab with a driver named Charles, who’s 46 — exactly half her age. They go through Paris and must get from one place to another, and we soon realize there are going to be a number of stops along the way. What we don’t know is exactly why this is happening.
Charles is frustrated with his job and has some family issues. He’s under a lot of stress. During this eventful ride, Madeleine is tries to understand what he’s going through while also revealing a lot about her life. Some information from her past is shocking.
The chemistry between leads Line Renaud and Danny Boon is strong. I love the theme of “Driving Madeleine” — you never really know who you’re going to meet, the stories the person is going to tell and the mood they’ll be in. There are some nice moments in this film, but also a lot of long, grim flashbacks to Madeleine’s past that bring the momentum down. In some cases they’re odd and make this experience feel like two separate movies.
I’ll remember some moments for a long time, including a scene in which Madeleine has to go to the bathroom. She and Charles quickly stop and enter a restaurant. He looks around and sees everyone’s reactions. And then they walk out of the restaurant. Many drivers are honking their horns. The mannerisms are great. I laughed out loud. It’s hilarious.
I was yearning for more of that energy. I understand that there are a lot of sad aspects to “Driving Madeleine”, and it’s okay to present those with this kind of a story. I’m just not a fan of the way it was done. And once the third act arrives, we’re brought down a completely standard paths. This story has played out on screen in this exact fashion many times before. I got a little emotion out of the final section but not as much as I wanted.