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Robert De Niro
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Muriel Santa Ana,
La tête en friche is a beautiful little French film based on the book by Marie-Sabine Roger and adapted for the screen by Jean-Loup Dabadie and director Jean Becker. A tale of an unexpected life change that occurs when an incidental meeting on a park bench brings together an illiterate lonely man with an elderly woman whose best friends are her books in the isolation of old age, this is truly a story of transformation and a definition of pure love.
Germain Chazes (Gérard Depardieu) grew up in an unwanted home, the brunt of teachers and classmates because they considered him illiterate, and now he is forced to lead a hand to mouth existence in a house trailer close to his now elderly, crass, alcoholic mother who still loathes him. He supports himself with odd jobs and by selling the vegetables he grows in his small garden. One day he visits his lunch spot - a park bench where he has named the 19 pigeons as his only real friends - and there he meets a very properly dressed elderly woman named Margueritte (two t 's because her father didn't know how to spell!) played by Gisèle Casadesus, who spends her days reading Camus, Proust, and other French classics aloud. They bond - Germain shares his pigeons' names and Margueritte introduces him in the most gentle manner to the joy of reading. Every day thereafter the two meet and Margueritte reads to Germain to the extent that Germain decides to learn to read despite his advanced years. Margueritte's influence changes Germain's outlook and response to the world and the ending, while sad on one level, is uplifting.
Both Depardieu and Casadesus are remarkable in their roles, never becoming caricatures but blossoming into completely warm and memorable people. The French cast is exceptional and the musical score and cinematography are as beautiful as the story they reveal.
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