My Old Lady Review –Thoroughly Enjoyable with Subtle Seductive Charm

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"My Old Lady" from Cohen Media Group and BBC Films, presents a quaint, charming, pleasantly intriguing and engaging film filled with unusual twists, turns, and mysteries of life, love, involvements and the wonder of finding home.


Directed by Israel Horovitz, "My Old Lady" stars Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas and Dame Maggie Smith, with Dominique Pinon, Noemie Lvovsky and Stephane Freiss and as the fourth lead character, the city of lights, Paris.

First a play, "My Old Lady" became known to audiences through the theater and after some thought Horovitz, an internationally acclaimed playwright and director, entered the screenplay into a call for screenplay submissions in Paris. The screenplay was selected and the rest is history. A family affair, daughter, Rachel Horovitz served as the films Executive producer. 

In the opening scene, Mathias Gold, played by Kevin Kline, walks out of the metro station and, oddly, and it could be only me, but through the magic of film, acting and an excellent Director of Photography, he appears without any dialogue spoken, to be one who is home.

A bit disheveled, Mathias does a touch search through his pockets finds a crumpled letter, fumbling he opens the door to a new journey in his life. His father, in his estate, bequeathed his son less than he felt he deserved and suddenly he is the owner, be believes, of a apartment in Paris.

Walking through the house, up the stairs, around the corners, through the connecting rooms, Mathias is wondering through the home, speaking poor French and exhibiting worse manners as he is now the owner of an apartment, which he believes is his outright.

With broken French, he tries to announce himself to anyone, as the home is largely empty, which is where we meet Madam Mathilde Gerard played by Dame Maggie Smith, asleep in the chair, enjoying an afternoon nap.

The gifting is in reality, a viager, (vi-a-jay) in France, this type of arrangement allows the home owner to invest and pay someone, usually a senior citizen a pittance each month and they stay in the apartment.

It's an odd arrangement and it is a French arrangement. What can you say? What Mathias finds out that he has really inherited is a 2000 euro a month debt that he must pay until Madam Gerard dies and not until then does he inherits the apartment out right.

At 90, well 92, as we find out, the prospects that Mathilde will pass sooner than later are very real, but alas not in the next 15minutes so as to end Mathias' money problems.

Flying in from NYC, he has somehow become 57, thrice divorced, severely wounded, unable to see the light of day, broke, and deeply and one thinks irrevocably full of bitterness and hatred for his father.

Madam Gerard's daughter, Chloe, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, whom we meet subtly at first, as she enters into her room unbeknownst of the new house guest.

The French, appear to deal with love and infidelity as a fact of life, a tandem arrangement, and possibly it is a cultural thing that is accepted. Only, in this film, as in many realities the cultural exchange deeply injuries those who believed marriage equated to monogamy.

It is difficult to see if Mathilde is truly injured over the damage resulting from her very lengthy affair with Mathias' father. She seems to be hoping, longingly, for the kind words he would have spoken if granted that one last moment that all hope for after death removes the option.

For the moment, the quiet afternoons, and precise routines, are breeched as this confused mess shows up, unsure what he has inherited, and realizing he has to actually invest in caring for his dead father's mistress sends him into the darkness.  The boy within Mathias' character responds well to the revelations of his father's lengthy double life.

Rarely, in reality, do parents live up to the expectation of their children, overly demonstrative in affection, the critique becomes a lack of things, more things a lack of love, both, an absence of time, simple pleasures.  The balance and perfect parentage children seem to be looking for is in actuality just the foundation for lengthy and lifelong arguments or zing gotcha moments.

Finding love and being brave enough to get beyond the years of  deadness and realize the light, is more than a feed-the-need fix, and courageous enough to go for it, to invest hoping for a return is the obstacle our two unhappy in life and love adults face.

"My Old Lady" has comical moments has a New Yorker's wherewithal and survival skills provide Mathias introduction to the locals, who provide him the elevator pitch of life and survival in Paris.

Stephane Freiss provides the modern twist portraying the Donald Trump type developer Wah-Wah whom will eventually provide the end or beginning of Mathias' financial problems.His scenes with both Kline and Scott Thomas are amusing.

As Parisians seem to be intent on keeping aspects of life uncommon to the rest of the world, the barter system of payment is also part of the culture of French. Contemporary Paris, with its evolving skyline and modern amenities and the quaint way of life of its inhabitants provide a mix of humorous, witty, delightful and inviting moments.

"My Old Lady" is filmed entirely in Paris, not a tourists Paris, as the mesmerizing monuments are not seen, and the city becomes familiar, home, beautiful, full of characters, shot from the viewpoint of a local. Our cast provides strong character driven performances.

"My Old Lady" is playing in select cities. Check your local listings.

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