Driving Madeleine Blu-ray Review


  • Director ‏ : ‎ Christian Carion
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Line Renaud, Dany Boon, Alice Isaaz
  • Subtitles: ‏ : ‎ English
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Cohen Media Group
  • Aspect Ratio ‏ : ‎ 2.35:1
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ NR (Not Rated)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ France
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Blu-ray
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ March 19, 2024


        There is something distinctly European about movies where two strangers cross paths and form a deep connection over a brief period of time. These narratives exist in other cultures as well, but the French are particularly adept at these slice-of-life narratives. Or perhaps it is less about the nationality of the filmmakers and more about the approach to life, because American filmmaker Richard Linklater built Before Sunrise (1995) and each of its sequels upon this premise, setting each installment in a different European city. Driving Madeleine is a distinctly French film about the bond formed between an elderly woman and her taxi driver on cross-town journey to a nursing home, warmheartedly depicting the ways in which strangers can have a deep impact on our lives however brief the encounter.


        Charles (Dany Boon) is a taxi driver whose outlook on the world has been sullied by the struggles he has been forced to endure. In addition to financial problems troubling him and his partner (Julie Delarme), Charles is only a few traffic violations away from losing his license and the ability to provide for his family. Despite being in a foul mood when he arrives to pick up 92-year-old Madeleine Keller (Line Renaud), the bond between the two grows as they travel across Paris. With each stop along the way, Madeleine shares more of her life story with Charles, which allows him to put his own difficulties into perspective.


        The audience is also permitted into Madeleine’s life experiences, far too often relying on flashbacks rather than the effective storytelling abilities of Renaud’s character. These flashbacks elliptically display the highs and lows of Madeleine’s early life as a beautiful young woman (played by Alice Isaaz). First love imagery fades into memories of an abusive marriage with a tragic ending. As Charles becomes engaged in the stories about his passenger’s life, he becomes less concerned with the impatient need to finish the job. What was intended as a quick drive ends up being a much-needed detour for both Charles and Madeleine.


        Without giving too much away, I wish there had been a bit more subtlety in the film’s resolution. When the film is about to end, if you were to guess the most predictably contrived ending possible, you would be correct in anticipating the way Driving Madeleine resolves the storyline. This is not to say that it won’t please audiences looking for a bit of emotional melodrama, but it will disappoint anyone looking for a bit of nuance in their dramatic entertainment choices. Driving Madeleine is a crowd-pleaser, but also lacks imagination and subtle themes. It is only because of the effective lead performances that these shortcomings will be looked over by many.


        The Blu-ray release of Driving Madeleine by Cohen Media Group comes with a bonus interview with director Christian Carion (Joyeux Noel) in the special features. There is also a theatrical trailer.


Entertainment Value: 6/10

Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10

Historical Significance:  3/10

Special Features: 3/10

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