TEA WITH MADAME CLOS
Couched in the framework of a train journey, the filmmaker remembers her many encounters over four years with Madame Clos, the oldest woman a small medieval village in South West France. She is buoyant and engaged in life around her which she observes each day through her kitchen window. There she shares her thoughts, fears, joys and sorrows - and witnesses the dramas of village life. Over cups of tea in her kitchen she confides intimate stories from the whole of the last century. And as she approaches her 100th year she reveals the secret handed down from her mother that has guided her.
Review by Louise Keller:
She is both ordinary and extraordinary, this elderly woman from a medieval village in the South West of France, who squeezes happiness from every minute of every day. Through the eyes of Australian filmmaker Jane Oehr, we meet and spend time with Madame Paulette Clos in her home town of Lauzerte, a village that has changed little over the past hundred years. The front window of her home is the central pivot to her life; as she opens the shutters, she embraces and becomes part of the world. Although it might seem as though nothing much happens in the course of the film, as we have tea with Madame Clos, the richness, optimism and fulfillment of her life are as clear as the blue sky above.
Filming during trips to Lauzerte over four years, Jane Oehr was fascinated when she first saw the then 96 year old, curious about her dress and manner. Wearing pearls and neat clothes, Madame Clos walks slowly with a stick. She is slightly stooped, a little hard of hearing and has a ready smile. She stops to pat a neighbour's dog, chats to everyone she meets as she does her daily shopping before making the steep climb home.
There are always fresh flowers in her kitchen, which is where she peels the vegetables before throwing them into a big pot of soup. She speaks slowly and deliberately, loves talking about food and has a sweet tooth. Like her parents who drank tea (Tilleul or Verveine) every night, Madame Clos enjoys her cuppa. Her life is brimming to the rim - with visits from her children, chats with her cleaning lady and her accordion playing neighbour, the gendarmes and the local kids, to whom she hands out Vichy mints through the window. 'If you're bored, go to the window,' is the advice her mother gave her as a child, and we can see that the advice has served her well.
We hear about her family, her philosophies and thoughts about many things including love. Inspiring, energetic and likeable, here is a woman who understands the importance of smelling the roses. The French countryside is stunning with its beautiful landscapes, ancient buildings, vivacious colours and muted rooftops. We almost feel as though we are there, enjoying a Pastis or tasting the brioche-like fouace bread she buys for breakfast. Spending time with Madame Clos is a charming interlude and one I would have enjoyed more had I not been distracted by the filmmaker's vocal presence. I wanted to hear some of those pearls of wisdom that Madame Clos shares with us with less intrusion.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
NSW: Dendy Opera Quays, Manly Twin, Wagga Wagga City Cinemas, Newcastle Tower GUO, Mt Vic Flicks, Glenbrook Cinema, Tamworth City Cinemas
Vic: Sun Yarraville, Cameo Belgrave, Rosebud, Sorrento
SA: Wallis Cinemas Mitcham & Mt Barker
Tas: Hobart State Theatre, Burnie Metro
ACT Greater Union Manuka
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TEA WITH MADAME CLOS (G)
PRODUCER: Jane Oehr
DIRECTOR: Jane Oehr
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jane Oehr
EDITOR: Stewart Young
MUSIC: Marcello Maio, Cathy Le Mee
PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Ronin
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 21, 2010