Sunday, October 30, 2011

On Reading Camus Together

I wasn't the only one seeking subtitles at the Westhampton on a Sunday afternoon.

After taking my usual seat, front row center, a woman came down the aisle and said, "You're in my seat!"

Sorry, honey, you snooze, you lose.

But our encounter did lead to a talk about the necessity of sitting in the front row there simply for the leg room.

I once took a tall friend and she declined my suggestion to sit in the front row only to regret having to fold her legs into a pretzel for the duration of the film.

Today I wanted to see "My Afternoons with Margueritte," starring Gerard Depardieu, the iconic French actor who seems like he's been around my entire movie-going lifetime.

To say it was a simple story of an under-educated man who befriends a literate 95-year old woman on a park bench is an understatement, a concept explained in the movie to Depardieu's character Germain.

Germain was the result of a quickie by his mother and a stranger and ever since she'd been berating him, destroying his self-esteem but not his spirit.

When they meet, the old woman says, "I was born from a love everyone else."

"Not everyone," Germain says, "Some people are mistakes."

And some people, like me, are both born of a love story and a mistake. It happens.

The movie moves at a leisurely pace (dare I say French-like?) and there are no big Hollywood moments as Margueritte reads Camus to Germain and life in the small village continues in the cafe, the market and the park.

The owner of the cafe is a 50-year old and her much younger Algerian boyfriend deserts her for a younger woman.

Big lug Germain tries to make her feel better by saying, "He'll be back. Everyone knows the best stews come from old pots."

As left-handed a compliment as that was, he's right and the boyfriend realizes the error of his ways.

But that's secondary and it's Germain's love stories with both his recently-pregnant girlfriend and the declining old woman that make up the heart of the movie.

Margueritte, lively, chatty and thoughtful, was described by Germain as loving nouns, surrounding herself with adjectives and living in a green field of verbs.

That's the kind of old-pot stew this mistake born of a love story aspires to be.

No understatement there.