My Afternoons with Margueritte

My Afternoons with Margueritte

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jean Becker
Produced by Louis Becker
Gérard Depardieu
Screenplay by Jean Becker
Jean-Loup Dabadie
Story by Amélie Bérard
Marie-Sabine Roger (book)
Starring Gérard Depardieu
Gisèle Casadesus
Claire Maurier
François-Xavier Demaison
Music by Laurent Voulzy
Cinematography Arthur Cloquet
Edited by Jacques Witta
K.J.B. Production
Distributed by StudioCanal
Release dates
  • 5 September 2010 (2010-09-05)
Running time
82 minutes
Country France
Language French
Budget $8.3 million
Box office $14.2 million[1]

My Afternoons with Margueritte (French: La Tête en friche) is a 2010 French film directed by Jean Becker, based on the book of the same name by Marie-Sabine Roger. It stars Gérard Depardieu, Gisèle Casadesus, Claire Maurier, Maurane, and François-Xavier Demaison. The film tells the story of an illiterate man who bonds with an older, well-read woman.[2]


Germain is a 45-year-old illiterate handyman who has not had much luck in his life so far. He was bullied at school, both by the teacher and the other pupils because he was a slow reader. His mother never gave him love and affection, and kept reminding him that he was clumsy and an unwanted child, the result of a fling at the French national holiday. But he is loyal, with a good heart, and still parks his trailer close to her house where he maintains his lovely vegetable garden. He earns some extra money by taking his vegetables to the weekly farmers' market in the truck borrowed from the bar where he relaxes every day with his friends, joking and chatting. His girl friend Annette is a younger woman who drives the local bus, and is very much in love with this sweet, simple and loving man.

One afternoon Germain meets Margueritte, a delicate 95-year-old lady who sits on the same bench to feed the 19 pigeons that he has observed so often that he knows them by sight and has given them names. She is highly educated, a scientist who has traveled the world with the World Health Organization and now spends her life reading in the genteel retirement home in this small town. They connect over a text from The Plague by Albert Camus, but because Germain is barely literate Margueritte starts to read the book aloud to him. Slowly he starts to appreciate the beauty of words and sentences and books because he is a good listener and he has a vivid imagination. The symbolism Camus uses in this philosophical novel leads Germain to expand his horizon, making him think as never before. The pair meet every day to continue their reading sessions. A friendship develops that is healing for both, enabling Germain to face the frustrations he silently carries with him. She continues to read to him, and eventually Margueritte gives him her old dictionary. In it he tries to find words that he's interested in, but because he can't spell he find the dictionary too frustrating and decides to return it when he has agreed to come over to Margueritte's retirement home for tea. She tells him that her eyesight is gradually fading due to macular degeneration, and that she will soon no longer be able to walk unassisted. Germain decides to reverse roles and try to read to her, but first he must improve his reading skills. With Annette's support he learns to read a story aloud to Margueritte. Shortly thereafter, Germain’s mother dies. Despite his mother's bad attitude toward him all his life, he is still distraught when he finds her dead. At the notary's he discovers that his mother owned the house he had always thought she was renting, and a sizeable fortune she had worked hard to earn, intending to bequeath that to him but never telling him about that. Meanwhile, Annette announces her pregnancy to Germain, who has wondered about the wisdom of having children because he does not want them to grow up with a good-for-nothing father, but Annette tells him not to worry: he can give love. When Margueritte suddenly leaves her retirement home because her nephew and niece can no longer supplement the costs and is put into a downscale retirement home in Flanders, Belgium, she has left only her dictionary for Germain. Germain traces her down and brings her with him to his house. On the way home, Germain reads a poem he has written about what Margueritte has done for him:[3]

It's not a typical love affair
But "love" and "tenderness"
Both are there
Named after a daisy
She lived amidst words
Surrounded by adjectives
In green fields of verbs
Some force you to yield
But she with soft art
Passed through my hard shield
And into my heart
Not always are love stories
Just made of love
Love is not named
But it's love just the same...
This is no typical love affair
I met her on a bench in my local square
She made a little stir, tiny like a bird
With her gentle feathers
She was surrounded by words
Some as common as myself
She gave me books, two or three
Their pages have come alive for me
Don't die now,
You've still time, just wait
It's not the hour, my little flower
Give me some more of you
More of the life in you
Not always are love stories
Just made of love
Sometimes love is not named
But it's love just the same.[4]



  2. Ryan M Niemiec; Danny Wedding (2013). Positive Psychology at the Movies: Using Films to Build Virtues and Character Strengths. Hogrefe Verlag. pp. 347–. ISBN 978-1-61676-443-2.
  3. La tête en friche. (n.d.). Retrieved September 9, 2013, from Wikipedia website: fr:La Tête en friche
  4. 1900, C. J. (n.d.). 玛格丽特午后的小诗[A poem from My afternoons with Margueritte]. Retrieved December 19, 2013, from Douban website:

External links

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