Director: Christian Carion | Script: Christian Carion, Cyril Gely |Cast: Line Renaud (Madeleine), Dany Boon (Charles), Alice Isaaz (Jonge Madeleine), Jérémie Laheurte (Ray), Julie Delarme (Karine), ea| Time to play: 91 minutes | Year: 2022
Many movies have portrayed Paris in different ways. It is an important characteristic for the films of the Nouvelle Vague, or the French new wave. The director Christian Carion has for his new film a beautiful race he clearly took a lot of inspiration from icons like Godard, Resnais and Truffaut. During a long taxi ride through Paris, a taxi driver listens to the life story of an old woman.
Charles is a bitter taxi driver with all kinds of problems. He is deeply in debt, things are not going well between him and his wife, and his driver’s license could be revoked at any time. His mood worsens when he has to drive his new client, Madeleine, to the other side of Paris, where he will live in a house.
Charles isn’t exactly talkative, but Madeleine manages to get through to him by telling him her life story. Through flashbacks, we see the tumultuous life he has lived, criticizing France’s misogynistic history. His stories touch Charles, which is conveyed beautifully by the wonderful dynamic between the duo.
The film is primarily intended to make singer-actress Line Renaud, now 94, shine in her old age. Thus, it delivers a terrific acting performance, but also ensures that Dany Boon has little room to bring Charles to life. Although it also talks about her past, only Madeleine’s stories are illustrated with flashbacks. Thematically it makes sense; she actually looks back on her life, while the memories of her don’t really matter to Charles right now.
It’s a logical and effective choice of direction, but it prevents the film from telling a good, well-rounded story in barely an hour and a half. The ending, which should be a huge gut punch, feels too abrupt and rushed. Although Madeleine’s story is beautifully rounded out, there should be more for the depressed driver.
The overly sugary and overly present music is also distracting in most scenes. This music is not very memorable and adds to the emotional charge, which already convincingly overflows from acting and camera work. This actually reduces the emotional impact, which makes strong statements that a beautiful race trying to do also cancels.
a beautiful race clearly trying to build a great life. The city of Paris, and how much has changed there in all those decades, symbolizes that great life and the changes in it. a beautiful race it just focuses too much on Madeleine’s (very fascinating) life story, and too little on everything else. A nice ride, but with some big bumps along the way.