The Giraffe's Neck (2004) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Ten year old Mathilde (Louisa Pili) lives with her mother Helene (Sandrine Bonnaire) in a suburb of Paris. Her only other family is a telephone dad (living in America with a new partner) and her grandfather Paul (Claude Rich), a retired bookseller, whom she and her mother visit regularly in his nursing home. Unknown to all she has found a cache of letters hidden by her gramps and written by her maternal grandmother Madeleine (Monique Mélinand) to Helene (and one to herself - the only one she's opened). Paul has taken bitter revenge on his wife for having left him, with his best friend, when Helene was ten; but he has deceived and embittered his own daughter in the process. As a result Helene hates her mother. Mathilde becomes a catalyst to put things right. She leaves home in the dead of night, walks to her gramps' and confronts him re the letters. He agrees to try to find his ex-wife and they head for the address on the letter sent when Mathilde was born. (His absence in the nursing home and the borrowing of the mini-bus is comically covered for by his friend Leo (Darry Cowl) who elicits the help of other inmates.) Meanwhile Helene, having discovered Mathilde's absence, sets off after them when she finally learns what has happened. Her anger and resentment now focuses on her father who, when they meet up at last, returns to Paris. Helene, having her mother's address from the last letter she wrote, takes Mathilde to a hilltop village in Spain where they find more and less than they would have hoped for. Meanwhile Paul, having buried his demons via the road trip and search, quits the nursing home and resumes a meaningful life in his bookshop. (BTW the film's title is from a bookshop Madeleine and Paul owned when they were young and in love.)

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