Conversations with My Gardener

Director: Jean Becker
Year: 2006
Country: France
Running time: 109 mins

France
Screenplay: Jean Cosmos.
Based on the book by Henri Cueco
Photography: Jean-Marie Dreujou
Editor: Jacques Witta
In French with English subtitles
M drug use, offensive language

With: Daniel Auteuil, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Hiam Abbass, Alexia Barlier, Èlodie Navarre


Those hardy perennials of French cinema, Daniel Auteuil and Jean-Pierre Darroussin (How Much Do You Love Me?, Red Lights), play an artist and his gardener – whose names are never identified – in this charming Gallic take on the male mid-life crisis. After the death of his mother, a Parisian landscape painter (Auteuil) returns to claim the ramshackle country house he grew up in. Noticing the house's once-impressive vegetable garden has fallen into neglect, he hires a local gardener (Darroussin) to knock it back into shape. To their surprise, the two men discover they were once childhood buddies whose lives took very different paths after they were expelled from junior school for a prank. While the vegetable garden grows, they rekindle their friendship, discussing all nature of topics, from the painter's dissolving marriage to the relative merits of lettuce, and take to calling each other nicknames – “Dauber” for the painter and “Gardener” for the other. Wry humour permeates every conversation between the two men, and when the artist on occasion visits Paris to meet with his hot young mistress, the pretentiousness of the art world is cause for additional sly commentary. But as summer inevitably turns to autumn and the Dauber’s garden begins to bear fruit, so too does their friendship face the sad trials of growing old. Adapted from the memoirs of artist Henri Cueco, Conversations is a warm and engaging celebration of the bonds of friendship and the enduring pleasures of a good yarn. “[Director] Becker lets the two mellow-voiced thesps unfurl their monologues like rich bolts of silk, unadorned with any cinematic trickery, producing frequently mesmerising results.” — Leslie Felperin, Variety

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