A terminally-ill delightful old lady ,who "does not want her friends to cry because she does want to smile till the very end " wants to eat the bread of life till its last crumbs: the joy of wearing a new hat for the first time ("it is not my birthday but as I won't celebrate my next one.."),of savoring toasts with spread Nutella ,of watching again Clint Eastwood's "the bridges of Madison County";and to top it all, a wild drive at 125 miles per hour.Besides ,she can bring something to the youth around her.Written by
"La Tête En Friche" aka "my afternoons with Margueritte" proved highly successful and made Gisele Casadesus a full-fledged star of the silver screen ,at 96!
This lady's career actually began in 1934 with Marcel L'Herbier ("L'Aventurier") and encompassed in her early days such memorable works as "Vautrin" and "L'Homme Au Chapeau Rond" in which she played opposite Raimu.But she was never given interesting parts in the cinema (See "Verdict" and the dreadful "Un Mari C'est Un Mari" ) and it's as a stage actress that she enjoyed a brilliant career,playing all the classics ;she also appeared in lots of MTV works .
"Sous Le Figuier" was ruthlessly panned by the critics and the audience turned their back on it;it was accused of trying to capitalize on the success of "La Tete En Friche" .
But if it weren't only for Mrs Casadesus ,now a centenarian ,and still working,this movie is worth watching:she shines in this part of a terminally-ill delightful old lady ,who "does not want her friend to cry because she does want to smile till the very end " and as Bertold Brecht wrote in "Die Unwürdige Greisin" ,she wants to eat the bread of life till its last crumbs: the joy of wearing for the first time a new hat ("it is not my birthday but as I won't celebrate my next one.."),of savoring toasts with spread Nutella ,of watching again Clint Eastwood's "the bridges of Madison County";and to top it all, a wild ride at 125 miles per hour.
Objections to "Sous Le Figuier" remain;the first thirty minutes suffer from a desultory script ;if the director wanted to show what a wise woman can bring to would be losers -actually they are not:one of the women's daughter is to study in Shanghai-then she signally failed in her purpose .The three "young" characters are totally lifeless and it's only when they play opposite Selma Under the fig tree or somewhere else Under the blue sky that the actors play their game well,particularly Anne Consigny.Directing sometimes takes the easy way out:the rain sets in when Selma is taken to the hospital and the very last picture is a hackneyed cliché.
Let's mention the nice cinematography which enhances the splendid country landscapes,a very lovely score à la Georges Delerue which for once spares us the obligatory "pop" songs in English (the only songs are Piaf' s "La Goualante Du Pauvre Jean" ,hummed by Nathalie and an unidentified ditty by one of the girlies).
And ,one more time ,hats off to Mrs Casadesus whose artistic longevity is equaled only by that of Mrs Darrieux in France!
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