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My Old Lady—Movie Review

Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith, and Kristin Scott Thomas are three of my favorite actors. If you share that opinion, I think you’ll agree that watching My Old Lady is time well spent, even though the film leaves something to be desired.

Israel Horovitz makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of his 2002 play, which starts out with great promise and a lighthearted tone. It grows more serious as the story unfolds and reveals all too clearly its origins as a stage piece.

Photo Courtesy of Cohen Media Group

Photo Courtesy of Cohen Media Group

The premise is certainly auspicious. Financially and emotionally impoverished Kline arrives in Paris to claim his inheritance, a spacious and desirable apartment, only to find that his father purchased the place under the terms of a French law that enables 94-year-old Smith to reside there for the rest of her life (along with daughter Thomas). Kline is desperate, while Smith is resolute, a literally immovable object who stands in the path of the American’s hopes and dreams for a fresh start.

This idea could go in any number of directions, and Horovitz initially mines it for dark-tinged humor, with considerable success. But as the going gets tougher, and the characters’ backstories are revealed, the tone becomes somber and life drains from the proceedings.

My Old Lady winds up a disappointment, but I’m still glad I had the opportunity to watch these three exemplary performers interact onscreen.

Here’s a look:

 

 

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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