The end of term U3A session at the Lexi. It is difficult to assess if the film was appreciated by all to the same degree. Those who contributed expressed delight and loved the film. There were some reservations about the mother’s character veracity, about the closing remarks on love, but on the whole the appreciation was expressed by generous clapping. However in one to one conversations after the open discussion, two men expressed very critical views: no tension, predictable, every possible tear jerking device. These reactions follow the general trend in that the reviewers (men in general) thought the film too sweet, while the general audience (our audience is mainly female) loved it.
I will quote Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian in his vicious ageist mode: Gerard Depardieu leaves a trail of saccharine behind him in this sickly tale of friendship between a smalltown chump and an old lady. You really will need a sweet tooth for this one. Or rather a complete set of dentures made out of Mars Bars and creme Eggs.
Why does this film stimulate this sort of reaction? It is one of the rare films where the old woman is sympathetic and even lovable. It is one of the rare films where child neglect, absent fathers, grief, loving relationships and friendships are treated with such a light touch. It is a film where the old woman is seen as having something to contribute, where the old woman is engaged in a mutual respectful relationship. Where the old woman has a past as a scientist. Where the old woman is seen with all her wrinkles and bad teeth but such an engaging smile and lively brain, but where the old woman is physically deteriorating also.
A sweet, sickly film? Or a film that hints on the important role that many old women do play in real life as opposed to the grotesque old woman so often seen in films?
A pity that people react cynically to genuine sincerity and decency.
Film seen by me for the first time this afternoon. The film is a vehicle for Depardieu first and foremost. It is not about the old lady; it is about how he learns the dunce is not a moron, as called by his mother and villagers, but an emotionally astute and sensitive, gentle man. She is the conduit through which he finds his confidence – through the love she shares with him of literature. It isn’t sickly sweet. That reading short changes the nuances of the film. It is actually quite a complex look at the many different ways humans love.
I’m not happy that Gerard’s character, a lumbering oaf with a kind soul, should pull a gorgeous young fecund girlfriend as he does in the film. She is a young beauty and not age appropriate for the actor. It was the only wrong note in the film for me. That, and the fact that Margueritte ‘s cardigan was never off her back! Give the old scientist a change of clothes, for goodness sake 😉