My Afternoons with Margueritte

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My Afternoons with Margueritte
La tête en friche.jpg
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 Cohen Media Group
Release dates
  • 5 September 2010 (2010-09-05)
Running time
82 minutes
Country France
Language French
Budget $8,3 million
Box office $14,175,221[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 and he has not had much luck in his early life. He was the target of insults and ridicule at school because he was a slow reader. His mother, who unintentionally became pregnant, treated him cruelly. She never offered him love and affection and only kept reminding him that he was an unwanted oaf. But he was loyal with a good heart and still parked his trailer about her house where he had his lovely vegetable garden. Each week he carried crops to sell at the farmers’ market, which provided him with some income. Every day, he relaxed at the bar where he met his friends to joke and chat. Annette, a younger woman who drove a local bus, was his girlfriend and they seemed to enjoy their relationship.

One afternoon, on a park bench, Germain meets Margueritte, a delicate 95-year-old lady who feeds the same 14 pigeons as he does. She is highly educated, has traveled the world with the World Health Organization and has spent her life reading literature. She now lives in a retirement home. Because reading terrifies Germain, Margueritte begins to read The Plague by Albert Camus aloud to him. This is the first time that he starts to understand the beauty of words by using his imagination. The symbolism Camus used in this philosophical novel leads Germain to think things that he has never thought about before. The pair meet every day to continue their reading sessions. A friendship develops that has healing powers that lessen the hidden sorrow in Germain’s life. One day, Margueritte gives him an old dictionary, but after trying to search for some words, he decides to return it. He finds that reading hurts his self-esteem because it brings out serious difficulties. Then Margueritte tells him that her eyesight is gradually fading due to macular degeneration, so Germain decides to overcome his illiteracy. With Annette supporting him, he learns to recite a story aloud to Margueritte. Shortly after, Germain’s mother dies leaving a will, and he discovers that he was bequeathed her house and all her fortune. The notary reveals that his mother had dedicated her life to earning money for him but sadly she did not tell him when she was alive. Meanwhile, Annette announces her pregnancy to Germain, who does not have confidence with children, but she encourages him so that he can give love. In the end, Margueritte is forced to leave her retirement home because her nephew and niece are no longer eligible for their pensions, so she goes to live in Belgium but leaves a dictionary as a present for Germain. Germain does not accept her departure and goes to bring her home, asking her to live with him. 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]



  1. ^
  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:
  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:

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