A successful artist (Daniel Auteui) leaves Paris and moves to the country to rediscover his roots and get over a recent split from his wife. His gardener (ean-Pierre Darroussin) turns out to be a former school friend and the two reminisce about old times...
This is the kind of film that restores your faith in French cinema. It avoids pretension and manages to reaffirm the simple lasting values in life via a charming central relationship. Writer/director Jean Becker’s (The Children Of The Marshlands) film is carried by two delicate performances. Jean-Pierre Darroussin (Red Lights, Marie-Jo And Her Two Lovers) is perfect as the simple gardener with more wisdom than his 'master". The other half of the pair is Daniel Auteuil, who has come to be virtually synonymous with French cinema.
Auteuil, who is simply cast-listed as 'the painter", has retired to his childhood home to lick his wounds after a divorce. His gardener, Leo (Darroussin), turns out to be a childhood acquaintance, and the two men bond almost immediately.
The film takes its time setting up the friendship before moving on to any plot developments, and this patience is part of its appeal. The two men’s lives are subtly contrasted as we get to know them via their domestic relationships and accidents of biography. The painter’s life has been successful but essentially troubled, and his relations with women could not be more different from Leo, who has been blissfully happy with his wife for 27 years.
This is a film about cross-class friendship, but what is salutary and restorative is the tact with which the two men handle their differences. The gardener offers his slightly homespun advice in good faith and, whilst the painter can’t help finding him quaint, it is both believable and morally satisfying when we find out that the gardener was right.
This is a charming film which deserves to be seen.
Though working effectively as a warm portrayal of an unlikely friendship, Conversations With My Gardener also functions as a quiet statement on class and prejudice.