2007 Running time: 109 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3

Synopsis

The chance re-acquaintance of a couple of old schoolmates - Daniel Auteuil's successful artist and Jean-Pierre Darroussin's humble ex-railway worker - blossoms into an enduring friendship despite the very different routes they have taken in life. Director Jean Becker's subtle look at the pleasures of the simple life is lifted by superlative performances by the two leads. Poignantly avoiding stereotypes or hackneyed cliches, it's yet another example of the French getting the domestic drama spot on.

Director

  • Jean Becker

Cast

  • Daniel Auteuil

  • Jean-Pierre Darroussin

  • Fanny Cottençon

  • Alexia Barlier

Review

Ignore the naff title - this isn't a tediously extended dialogue about seed packets and greenfly killer between Alan Titchmarsh and the master of the house.

No, it's a touching tale of an innocent childhood friendship rekindled in middle age. Subtle and honest, the gently unfolding story respects the fact that a gentle tug on the heartstrings means so much more than a big Hollywood-style yank.

That most consummate of actors Daniel Auteuil plays a successful but jaded artist facing an unwanted divorce who quits his bourgeoise Parisian life to return to the country home of his childhood.

Savouring the rural solitude, he decides to reclaim a small patch of his garden from the encroaching undergrowth and turn it into a vegetable patch.

The man who answers his call for a green-fingered local is Jean-Pierre Darroussin, a gentle, former railway worker who now happily devotes his time to greenery.

It would be all too easy to impose an antagonistic chalk'n'cheese relationship on the unlikely pair, but veteran director Jean Becker plays a subtler game than that, fleshing them out as living, breathing old-timers.

Auteuil regards his buddy as a humble soul who has achieved a quiet happiness by living a life uncluttered by pretensions that he is all too familiar with in the metropolitan art world.

This exposure to a simple life outside the galleries of Paris triggers in Auteuil's painter a fresh perspective on life...and one which will be brutally challenged at an unexpected turn of events.

A sweet-natured, truthful tale, this one is definitely a grower.