Opening 6 Jan 2011
Germain (Gérard Depardieu) is a grown man who still lives near his mother, protectively watching over her as she drinks herself to death in disappointment. He is a buddy to the guys at the pub, arbitrating disagreements. His blond girlfriend is young and faithful. Still, Germain is always on the periphery, a shy outsider. One day he meets elderly Margueritte (Gisèle Casadesus) on a park bench, where they discuss the pigeons she is feeding. Soon they turn to the next topic, which is the book in Margueritte’s lap; she describes the story. Gradually, Margueritte realizes that Germain is illiterate, and she undertakes to teach him to read. Their friendship grows until, suddenly, she disappears.
For some reason, I always love the first film I see at the Filmfest Hamburg, and this year was no different. I enjoyed this French film and am certain that it would still seem fresh and amusing, even if it were the 25th film I had watched that week. This is a universal story with a happy ending. No matter what you think of Depardieu, his awesome workload demands respect; he never stops filming. According to the Internet Movie Database, he has made 190 films since 1967 and fifteen of them are in the pre- or post-production or filming phase. Labyrinth must be his 173rd film in 43 years, and in this case, he is well-chosen for the role. Also impressive is Gisèle Casadesus, a very young 95 years old. The two of them are a perfect match. Directed by Jean Becker and based on a book by Marie-Sabine Roger. (Becky Tan)