Conversations With My Gardener (12A)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner20/11/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Engaging, beautifully acted and ultimately moving drama, though the pacing and general lack of plot are occasionally frustrating.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jean Becker, Conversations With My Gardener stars Daniel Auteuil as a Parisian painter who moves back into his childhood home in southern France after the death of his parents. He advertises for a gardener and is delighted when the man who applies turns out to be his childhood best friend (Jean-Pierre Darroussin).

The two men quickly re-establish their friendship and take to calling each other Dupinceau (of-the-brush or Dauber) and Dujardin (of-the-garden or Gardener) so we never learn their real names. They also help with each other's personal problems: the painter finds the gardener's son-in-law a job, while the gardener offers advice when the painter tries to reconcile with his estranged wife (Fanny Cottencon).

The Good
Essentially, this is a two-hander – aside from a few momentary diversions, the majority of the film is taken up with conversations between the two friends. To that end, Auteuil and Darroussin are both fantastic – there's a warmth to their friendship that is genuinely moving.

As a result, the supporting cast don't get much of a look-in, which is a shame, because they seem like interesting characters, especially the gardener's wife (Hiam Abbass), the painter's daughter (Elodie Navarre) and the painter's girlfriend (Alexia Barlier), whose only purpose in the film seems to be a) getting stolen away from her pretentious boyfriend (Roger van Hool) and b) sunbathing nude and embarrassing the gardener.

The Bad
The film is occasionally frustrating in the way that it rejects promising subplots (e.g. the painter falling out with his daughter when she announces her intention to marry a much older man) in favour of just hanging around with the two leads. Similarly, the film drags a little in the middle and it's often unclear how much time is passing between scenes.

Worth seeing?
Despite its flaws, Conversations With My Gardener is an emotionally engaging and superbly acted drama that's worth seeing for its moving depiction of male friendship.

Be the first to review Conversations With My Gardener...
image
01 Rurouni Kenshin 2: Kyoto Inferno (15)

Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Tatsuya Fujiwara

image
02 Annie (tbc)

Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne

image
03 Paddington (PG)

Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins

image
04 Get Santa (tbc)

Jim Broadbent, Warwick Davis , Rafe Spall

image
05 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (12A)

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Content updated: 26/11/2014 16:08

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (12A)

Jennifer Lawrence is back in the penultimate part of the spectacular Hunger Games series.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films