A grouchy cab driver is won over in ‘Driving Madeleine’


“Driving Madeleine” opens at the M.V. Film Center on Friday, Jan. 19. This film is a delightful story of two characters confined in the space of a car, much like Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat” and many other films, but the best of them. The story concerns a 92-year-old woman named Madeleine and the cab driver who takes her to her destination, but first on an extended trip through Paris. Cab driver Charles (Dany Boon) is grumpy as a result of a bad day, but Madeleine (Line Renaud) is a warm and chatty old lady, in no hurry to get to her new nursing home.

Charles and Madeleine travel around Paris en route to her destination, as Madeleine visits the places reminiscent of her past and tells the story of her life. The film opens with Charles, in a bad mood, ignoring Madeleine’s conversation. Madeleine’s first story is of her teenage love with Matt, with whom she has a son. He travels back to the U.S. and is gone, married with two sons, despite their child together. Madeleine’s next relationship, described in flashbacks, has her abused by a man who beats her, and even her son. Eventually she uses a blowtorch to burn off his genitals, and as a result is convicted of indecent assault, going to jail for 25 years. Her mother takes care of her son, who is grown up by the time Madeleine is released. Sadly, he joins the military and is killed in Vietnam.

By this time, Charles begins to listen to Madeleine’s stories, and they wander around Paris, stopping for Madeleine to visit her past locations or to visit a restroom. Charles helps her into a restaurant’s restroom, and the viewer begins to see him soften. At one point he runs a red light and is about to be fined. With two fines already, he will lose his license, but Madeleine takes charge. She invites the policeman’s female partner to sit with her in the cab, and explains that she has a heart condition and is on her way to a medical clinic. As a result, the policeman lets Charles go without a fine. By now, Charles is won over, and enjoys Madeleine’s stories. He even shares his own life with her, and they share a meal in a restaurant, which Charles insists on paying for.

Not only has Charles developed an affection for Madeleine, but so has the viewer. This makes “Driving Madeleine” an appealing film.

Information and tickets for “Driving Madeleine” are available at mvfilmsociety.com.