Directed by: Jean Becker
Written by:Jean Cosmos
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Fanny Cottencon, Alexia Barlier, Elodie Navarre
Released: November 8, 2007
Grade: A-

A successful painter (Auteuil) from Paris has returned to his childhood home in the French countryside.  It’s allowed him to get away from his wife, who is looking to divorce him.  He is also hoping that the beauty and serenity of the area will help him get over his “painter’s block”.  He’s looking for inspiration.

There is a small vegetable garden at the home which has become overrun with weeds.  The painter hires a gardener to plant some new crops and bring it back to its former glory.  When the gardener arrives on the first day, memories come flooding back.  It turns out that they were good friends at school and haven’t seen each other in roughly 40 years.

Three times a week, the gardener pays a visit to the painter to help look after the growing vegetables.  Each time, the pair reflect on their past and talk as if they’d been best friends for ever.  They may have different backgrounds and different personalities but being in each other’s company has given them both something to feel happy about.

Conversations With My Gardener is a simple film about the power of friendship.  Much of the film is spent listening to these two guys talk about a range of simple things.  There’s the baker from the village who just died.  There’s the painter’s daughter who is marrying a man old enough to be her father.  There’s the annual 3-day trip to Nice that the painter takes with his wife each year.

I think this is one of the finest French films of the year and two touching performances are turned in by Daniel Auteuil (Hidden) and Jean-Pierre Darroussin (A Very Long Engagement).  A benchmark I often use at the cinema is how many times I look at my watch during the movie.  The enjoyed the interaction between these two characters and I can happily report that I looked at my watch just twice (that’s a lot less than normal).  It meets the definition of a “feel good” movie.

I understand that this film won’t be for everyone.  There’s no violence, no horror, no sex and no nudity.  What it does have though… is my recommendation (for what it’s worth).