There are those who have had Tuesdays with Morrie and have driven with Daisy and their lives have been enriched from the encounters. Are old people the magical sages of the universe or is there something valuable in taking a break from your life?
Germain Chazes’ life doesn’t move that fast. He does some chores around his house, he does a simple job, he visits some friends at the local pub and he goes to see the birds at the park. However Germain puts very little value in himself. Throughout his childhood, Germain was bullied and abused, especially by his cruel mother. Without that love growing up, he feels empty even when he’s with his kind girlfriend, Annette (Sophie Guillemin).
One day he bonds with an elderly woman named Margueritte—a typo on her birth certificate that stuck. She sits on her red pillow atop the stone park bench so she can look at the birds. When Germain tells her the names of all of the birds and points of distinct personalities in their behavior, they become friends. They meet everyday to read.
Germain cannot read very well, but Margueritte says that reading is listening. Once you listen to the words, you will want to read them for yourself. And so he becomes addicted to a more pleasant lifestyle.
The stars, Gérard Depardieu and Gisèle Casadesus, make the movie. Their sweetness together makes the park around them brighter. Sometimes they talk about gross and dark topics but they remain delighted for they have someone they can really talk to. Scenes without them are like the rest of their day, waiting for their next interaction.
That isn’t entirely fair since the way Germain spends the rest of the day is trying to learn from his last visit. His transition is very believable and honorable. The only thing that slows down the pacing are the too many flashback scenes to his difficult childhood. One may have been enough to back up his words, but really his words spoke volumes.
“My Afternoons With Margueritte” never overstays its welcome with a brisk runtime of 88 minutes. It avoids the obvious ending with something more fitting. This is one of those movies that will charm even those who are irrationally afraid of subtitles.