- Golden Globe Awards
Driving Madeleine (France)
For Madeleine, 92, (French icon Line Renaud) it is the last journey. A one-way taxi ride through Paris to the retirement home will be her final destination. Sitting in the back of the car, she tries to engage in upbeat conversation with the surly and not very talkative driver Charles (ultra-popular comedic actor Dany Boon, Stuck Together). Reluctant at first, he nonetheless starts to warm up to the elderly lady who asks him to take a lengthy detour through the city.
She wants to stop along the way and revisit several significant places that hold a special meaning for her. Each of them triggers a mix of conflicting memories, some happy, others painful. As snippets of her past are revealed via flashbacks, the trip down memory lane turns increasingly gripping and moving. All the while, Charles starts to open up about his financial problems, marital and job issues, and his fear of losing his driver’s license. Madeleine listens compassionately, offering some nurturing advice. Soon, a special connection blooms between the two, a reciprocal liking that will lead to an unforeseen and heartwarming conclusion.
As director Christian Carion (My Son and 2006 Golden Globe nominee Merry Christmas) explains in the press notes, Driving Madeleine is “a movie about the strength and courage of a woman who has endured some of life’s worst hardships such as domestic violence, but who is never defeated. Her philosophy of life and her humor were her best weapons against tragedy.”
And to play such a character, he could not imagine any other actress than Renaud. In France, she is considered a national treasure for a long career as a singer, performer, actress and tireless AIDS activist. “She is able to emote an exceptional sincerity and truth,” marvels Carion.
Driving Madeleine was the perfect vehicle for the actress. “It is the most beautiful part of my career,” Renaud enthused at the Angoulême Francophone Film festival where the film premiered last August. “I shared a lot with my character. Firstly, we are the same age. Like her, I went through some periods of hardship. I recognize that type of woman because I see a lot of my grandmother and great-grandmother in her. Like Madeleine, they were battered and abused but stayed resilient and strong. Their fortitude and mettle helped me in my life to get over difficult times and to fight for the causes I believed in. This is why the movie touches me so much.”
An added bonus for her was the opportunity to act again opposite Boon with whom she previously made two successful comedies, sharing great chemistry on screen. Both are from Northern France and have similar blue-collar backgrounds before they became stars in their respective fields.
Interviewed on the French TV5 Monde channel while promoting the film, Boon, who first worked with Carion in Merry Christmas, gushed about his reunion with Renaud and their enduring friendship. “Thanks to Madeleine, Charles can find his true self again, set his priorities right, and approach his life more positively with renewed confidence. For me, this film is an incredible gift from life and a lesson in humanity.”