It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Germain is a handyman in a sloppy flannel shirt and overalls, overweight and hulking. Margueritte is a little (85 pounds) old (95 years) lady. They meet on a park bench, where both know that exactly 14 pigeons hang out there, and both recognize them by sight.
Germain may be a hulk (he's played by Gerard Depardieu, who certainly is). But he is gentle and has a good heart, despite having been treated with cruelty by a mother who still survives to make his life miserable. He lives in a small trailer parked near his childhood home and lovingly tends his garden, where his mother displays sporadic violence against leeks.
Margueritte is played by Gisele Casadesus, now 97, who made her first film in 1934 as a member of Comedie Francaise. She is so slight and fragile she reminds Germain of a glass figure. She once worked for the World Health Organization, now lives in a retirement home with her beloved books.
Germain believes he cannot read. Actually, we discover later, he was taught to read but never taught to have a shred of self-confidence. She begins to read to him — The Plague by Camus — and he is an ideal listener. With her as his catalyst, he makes slow steps toward self-esteem.
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