Sunday, October 26, 2014

"My Old Lady," Directed By Israel Horovitz

"My Old Lady" was originally a play by Israel Horovitz, who directed this film adaptation.  The main character, Mathias Gold (Kevin Kline), is 57 years old, thrice divorced and an acerbic, recovering alcoholic who left New York for Paris to claim his inheritance of an apartment building from his father. Once there, he discovers Mathilde Girard (Maggie Smith), a feisty 90-year-old, and he also encounters the vagaries of French real estate law. Apparently one can't sell an apartment while the previous tenant is alive; further, one must make payments to her. Mathilde lets him take a room while he considers his future, including what to ultimately do with his possession. Her dour daughter Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas) also lives there, and she is not pleased by the new occupant. While this set-up seems to have the makings of a comedy (especially as somewhat misleadingly presented in the trailer above), the film takes quite a serious turn. Mathias and Chloe find they have something in common: Mathilde and Mathias's father had an affair in Paris. This long-term affair had damaging effects on both, yet these repercussions could also draw them together. "My Old Lady" is clearly a play adapted for a film, with long dialogues that uncover the characters' familial torments. While its transition into a film is not completely smooth, it is redeemed by powerful, revelatory acting on the part of the three main characters, especially that of Kevin Kline.

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