My Old Lady (2014)
Mathias Gold (Kevin Kline) is not a happy man. He is 57, broke and has been divorced 3 times. When the father whom he hated dies, Mathias is left a very nice apartment building in Paris worth a lot of money. Mathias travels to Paris in order to sell it, but what he doesn’t expect is for a 92-year-old woman (Maggie Smith) to still be living in it with her daughter (Kristin Scott Thomas). What comes as even more a shock to Mathias is that the apartment that he now owns is a Viager investment (look it up, it’s a French thing) which mean he owes HER money monthly until her death, at which time he can be free from the financial contract. With no money and no place to go, Mathias “rents” a room in his own apartment building for several days as he looks for someone to buy out the Viager contract, but in the mean time, he learns things about his father and his own life that he never knew were possible.
After seeing the previews, I was expecting a light-hearted semi-funny English drama that put Kline and Smith in their stereotypical roles, but what I got was something much more dramatic and deep. My Old Lady is the kind of movie that starts off simple and gets more involved with each passing scene. This movie touches on subjects from family tragedies to grudges between father and son. It also touches on true love and the unraveling of secrets that can change a person even at the age of 57. Kevin Kline and Maggie Smith might be in their comfort zone as far as roles go, but they are great together. My Old Lady might have run a little long for my taste, but for what it has to offer, I didn’t care too much. Now, I will say that this movie is mostly for a the ladies that watch Downton Abbey and stuff like that (seeing as there were mainly 50+ year old couples in the theater I was in), but some guys will appreciate the story and depth. At the end of the day, I was glad I saw this movie and appreciated it very much… plus I like Kevin Kline and his quirky ways.
7/10 Stars – Becoming more complex with each passing scene, Kline and Smith shine in this dramady with depth.
My Old Lady is an adaptation of a stage show is a directorial debut for Israel Horowitz who is adapting his own play. As a film, My Old Lady isn’t quite as compelling as I hoped it would and it stretches the bounds of plausibility in terms of some plot lines but overall it worth seeing – if only for getting a taste of my beloved Maggie Smith!
Based on play I couldn’t find fault in the film for its dialogue. The dialogue is witty, interesting and compelling. I think of my favorite lines has to be one from Maggie Smith’s character, “I’m 90. Subtlety is not something that interests me.” Maggie Smith has some of the best lines for sure just like her character in Downton Abbey. Kevin Kline is annoyingly likable in this movie. Troubled and not afraid to share there is some great character development for Kline to strut his stuff on-screen. I think there is something to appreciate about these older stars still holding their own on-screen and presenting not just passable performances but performances worthy of notice and acclaim in certain instances.
I did however find two parts of the film tough to swallow. The first was length. Sorry but while my counterpart could let the length pass I won’t. For a dialogue driven film it was far too long. A good portion of the beginning could have been tightened up to shorten it and really add punch to the rest of the film. I am all for building up to things but the build up here wasn’t all necessary. Get to the point already! My second beef with My Old Lady were certain implausible plot elements. I won’t go into detail because that would mean spoilers but I had a hard time dealing with certain plot elements and twists if you will that come to light or take place near the end of the film. A few of them were just a bit much for me and bothersome in many ways.
Still, My Old Lady hits a sweet spot for the over 50 crowd looking for an adult drama in this sea of teen dramas with which we are faced today. The sophistication and intelligence of this film can’t be denied and the lead performances don’t just promise entertainment but deliver on many counts.
6/10 Stars – A complex and compelling film that highlights the strengths of its talent but rubbed me the wrong way with certain plot elements.