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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Old Lady (2014)

This is a movie with great actors, a sad story, and while it doesn't immediately grab you, it definitely grows on you.  Mathilde (played by Maggie Smith) lives in an enormous apartment in Paris with her middle-aged daughter Chloe (played by the wonderful Kristin Scott Thomas, whose French is as impeccable as her acting).  They are visited by Mathias (played by Kevin Kline), who is nearing sixty and has very little to show for it.  He believes that he has inherited the apartment from his wealthy and estranged father.  But in fact he has not.  His father bought the apartment 43 years before in an arrangement called a viager.  The buyer pays a monthly fee to the seller up to the seller's death, and the seller retains control of the property until death.  So Mathias has to come up with a couple thousand euros a month not to lose the whole thing.

That is the text.  The subtext is about the devastating effect that secrets can have on whole families.  Mathilde and Mathias' father had a long standing secret that they thought had no effect on those around them, but in fact it did.  Very much so.  The selfishness of Mathilde is so palpable, and is only surpassed by her smugness.  It is well scripted, well acted and thought provoking.

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