Celebrity airplane wizzer Gérard Depardieu, playing massive dimwit Germain in this syrupy tale of intergenerational friendship, looks aghast when a bar buddy, in a state of pickled despair, takes a leak on his own front steps. No PR materials I've received for My Afternoons With Margueritte, based on a novel by Marie-Sabine Roger, have highlighted this unintentionally timely scene, though it proves to be the only selling point in a film otherwise clogged with life-affirming hooey. Lumbering around town in overalls and flannel shirts, Germain, a vegetable vendor and handyman, meets 95-year-old bibliophile Margueritte (Gisèle Casadesus) on a park bench. The saintly old woman's belief in her new acquaintance's innate intelligence gives him the esteem boost he needs: Germain, his IQ at least a few points higher than Forrest Gump's, still hurts from the insults Mom hurled at him while growing up, shown in frequent flashback. That so many of the colossal yokel's mental states are literalized, as when the screen fills with thousands of rats while Margueritte reads Camus' The Plague aloud to her new pal, typifies the movie's antipathy to nuance. Fortunately, we are not shown what "I love being inside you," Germain's postcoital admission to his much younger, prettier, and tinier girlfriend, would look like. (Not rated)
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