It took me the best part of half an hour to get a ticket for My Old Lady. Not through just queuing, but through my own mistake in pre-booking a ticket for the wrong day. Having realised my error, I attempted to use one of those self service machines which never seem to work with unlimited card holders, and didn’t with myself. After trying and failing at getting a ticket myself, I decided to join the long line of Hunger Games fans and get a ticket the usual and most patient way. When I reached the counter, I was told my card wasn’t working and I needed to go upstairs and join another queue to wait for a manager to authorise my ticket. Finally, after half hour, I managed to get my ticket and thankfully because of the huge amount of adverts, missed none of the film. I tell you all this because after a stressful situation like that, the film would have to be something special to warrant the hassle. So, was it worth it? In a word no, although that isn’t to say My Old Lady isn’t without its merits.
It tells story of Mathias Gold, a fifty seven year old recovering alcoholic who travels to Paris after inheriting an apartment from his late father. Desperate for money, his plans to sell the property are ruined on finding a ninety two year old inhabitant in Mathilde Girad. Under the lawful contract that Girad originally signed with Gold’s father, not only is he unable to evict her but must pay her rent on a monthly basis until she dies and he can claim the property for his own. Originally a play, Israel Horovitz adapts his own work for the big screen and its theatrical roots are evident throughout. Lengthy scenes of dialogue and at times big chunks of monologue that take place in the rooms of the apartment, form much of the films narrative. It’s predictable fare with a centre revelation that most people will see coming from the very first scene, but the main issue the films suffers from is it’s off balance tone.
Don’t be fooled by the poster; My Old Lady is far from the charming comedy it would have you believe. Things certainly start off in a gentle and witty fashion but after a major ‘twist’, the story takes a turn toward the melodramatic that takes up a big chunk of the final act. Just as quick as it turns into a surprisingly dark and dramatic picture, it flips back to a humorous and bizarrely romantic ending that feels out of place and makes for confusing viewing. The only reason worth going to see My Old Lady is the cast, particularly the three main players, who are all excellent I’m their own right. It’s great to see Kevin Kline back in the cinema in something other than Last Vegas and he really puts in a well rounded and powerful performance. Kristin Scott Thomas is an actress who I’ve always found underrated and is great here too; then of course you have Dame Maggie Smith who does what Dame Maggie Smith does best as the titular old lady.
Whilst the cast are all superb however, their work alone isn’t enough to complete save My Old Lady. It isn’t without its moments and there are a few laughs spread thinly throughout, but with a cast as good as this and a decent premise as well, the films reeks of a missed opportunity. Had it been a darker, more comedic story akin to The Ladykillers, then that would have been much more interesting. Unfortunately My Old Lady fails to ever take off and without its fine performances would have undoubtedly put me to sleep.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com