This French film doesn't so much ladle on the syrup as pressure-hose it towards anything and anyone within the frame. Jean Becker's twee Gallic two-hander sees odd-jobbing rube Germain (Grard Depardieu, looking like a hay bale in dungarees) receive a series of literary life lessons from little old lady, Margueritte (95-year-old Gisle Casadesus), who he meets while counting pigeons in the park. Bullied by his friends and his mildly daffy mother, Germain overcomes his grim lot with a bit of hasty self-education and a newfound love and understanding of the written word. It's basically Educating Rita, if Rita were French, rotund and Forrest Gump.
As with his does-what-it-says-on-the-tin previous film, Conversations with my Gardener, Becker whips up a friendly dialogue between two characters who are unconcerned with what society might say about their pairing. There is a sweet chemistry between Depardieu and Casadesus, but their wry interactions are lost within a rambling, frothy non-story that aims squarely for the heart over the head. A score of comic reliefs fill out much of the supporting cast, their main function being to comment on Germain's late blossoming in case we'd missed it. It's harmless fun, for sure, but Becker takes that remit as justification not to delve too deeply into the forms of depression and loneliness that can't be relieved by, say, a heart-to-heart with a cat or -- as is often the case -- 'encore un petit verre de vin blanc!'