by HELEN GEIB
Gerard Depardieu reminds how good he can be in My Afternoons with Margueritte, a comedy-drama set in small town France. Germain (Depardieu) is a goodhearted but simpleminded man who gets by doing odd jobs and selling produce out of his kitchen garden. Margueritte (Gisele Casadesus) is a nonagenarian bibliophile. They meet by chance in the park when they sit at the same bench to watch the pigeons. Soon they’re meeting every day; they talk and she reads to him from Camus. His mother is a harridan who’s been verbally abusing him his whole life and her only family is an uncaring nephew, and their odd couple friendship becomes something each has longed for.
There’s a perfectly lovely hour long feature inside My Afternoons with Margueritte. Germain and Margueritte are delightful together and there are many charming moments, such as Germain reading the dictionary entry for “tomato” to his cat and inadvertently impressing bystanders with apposite Camus quotations. Unfortunately, at its actual running time of 82 minutes the film is both slight and padded- padded with one of cinema’s least believable romantic relationships. The beautiful Sophie Guillemin, who is 29 years younger than Depardieu, plays Germain’s girlfriend Annette. Annette is much smarter and much better educated than Germain; is to all outward appearances a normal, emotionally well-adjusted woman; they have nothing in common and no conversation; and yet, she dotes on him, wants him to be the father of her child, and does his laundry.
2 1/2 stars