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.
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: