Antoine de Maximy is a name you’ve probably never heard of. He’s a French man who has travelled the world in an interesting and brave way. With cameras all around him recording his journeys, he asks random people if he can sleep at their place. It sounds mundane but it’s some of the most interesting television I’ve ever watched. He builds connections with the most unlikely of people. Through Antoine’s camera lens, the rest of us get to experience the everyday highs and lows of people from all warps of life.
His full-length film about crossing the US in 2008 aired on French TV this week. I was hooked throughout. The unexpected generosity of strangers and the moments of sadness and reflection were remarkable, and Antoine’s choice of questions sometimes lead to the oddest of situations. “Does you wife wear stockings?” he asked a stranger in his French accent. The stranger nodded and agreed to get him a pair! He hadn’t yet explained that he needed them because his car’s fan belt had broken.
Hearing him struggle to understand ‘Trick or treat’ reminded me of so many similar French language moments for me — that awkward moment when you’ve already asked the speaker to repeat a phrase too many times, but you still don’t understand what’s going on. Seeing him apply his French “why not?”, chilled attitude (like driving right up to George Clooney’s front door just because the gate was open) reminded me of one of the aspects of French culture that I love.
Best of all, it’s on YouTube! If you have time to watch, please do (email subscribers will need to click through to lefrancophoney.com to view):
Antoine has visited many countries, so if you’re wondering how he’d get on in your own country, click around on YouTube and you’ll probably find he’s already been there.