Driving Madeleine


With the extortionate cost of living currently, taking a taxi anywhere can feel somewhat of an indulgence. So if you’re anything like us, the last thing you want is a chatty driver. You can appreciate that it can be a lonely position, but at the same time you really don’t want to hear, in great detail, about how they recently had their verruca frozen off on the NHS.

But conversation is a two way street, and although you could say it comes with the territory, you can imagine that certain passengers are keen to strike up a conversation when you as the driver aren’t necessarily in the mood. Which is pretty much the premise for this latest French drama.

boom reviews Driving Madeleine
So, let me tell you just who I had in the back of my cab earlier...

Working his shift on the bustling streets of Paris is cab driver Charles (Dany Boon). The constant traffic already has him in a grumpy mood, when he gets a job come up on the radio, for a pick up on the other side of the city. This of course doesn’t go down well, until Charles is told that the pick-up has informed them that he can start the meter as of now, so he gladly accepts.

When he gets there he finds an elderly woman waiting for him. He soon finds out that her name is Madeleine (Line Renaud) and she’s off to live in a home, and is in no particular hurry to get there. Which is just as well as the Paris traffic is its usual congested self. This means the pair have some time to spend in each other’s company, and although Charles isn’t initially keen on Madeleine’s chatty demeanour, she turns out to be an unforgettable fare.

boom reviews Driving Madeleine
How many times do I have to say it, I'm not Pat Butcher!

After directing the traumatic ordeal that was 2001’s My Son set in the Scottish highlands starring James McAvoy, French writer and director Christian Carion returns to his homeland for this slightly more comforting film.

It mostly takes place on one day, as well as for the most part within the confines of the cab. It is littered with the occasional flashback, as Madeleine recalls her past to Charles, who slowly but surely becomes intrigued by her extraordinary life story.

Essentially it’s a metaphor for how everyone around us has a story to tell – you just have to listen. And obviously the interior of a cab is the perfect place to illustrate this, with two strangers in close quarters, who are forced to spend time with one another due to the journey involved and the sheer amount of traffic in the way.

The journey begins with Charles really in no mood to listen this old biddy on his backseat, banging on about the war. But as he pays attention, and actually listens to her story, he begins to realise what an incredible life she has led.

The result is a charming, bittersweet journey through not only the beautiful streets of Paris, but of each of their lives. It very much supports the notion that it’s so easy to take each other at face value and dismiss it, and take the lives lived around us for granted.

And if the end of the journey doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, nothing will.

A wonderful, tender film, full of warmth, that’s likely to be one of the most enjoyable cab rides you’ll ever have to sit through.

we give this four out of five