For some reason, the previews for My Old Lady led me to expect a comedy. Maybe with a bit of romance thrown in. Well, there was a bit of romance and a bit of comedy, but it was really a serious drama about family pain, neglect, trauma, and ultimately love.
I don’t want to give you any spoilers because the characters and the story unravel slowly and spoilers would ruin things. The story involves an American man, Mathias Gold (Kevin Kline), and an old English woman Mathilde Girard (Maggie Smith) who lives in Paris with her daughter Chloé Girard (Kristin Scott Thomas). The old woman has the right to live in Mathias’ apartment until she dies, even though the apartment belongs to Mathias. In addition, Mathias has to pay €2400 a month to Mathilde while she lives in his apartment.
Since Mathias is flat broke, this presents a problem.
The longer Mathias is around Mathilde and Chloé, the more their stories become clear. Their histories are interrelated in ways only Mathilde knows fully, and she isn’t forthcoming with the details. There is a great deal of pain in Mathias’ and Chloé’s past and it is revealed in agonizing bursts.
All three of these wonderful actors are superb in their parts. Maggie Smith is astonishing in reminding us that old people are not just old – they are the sum of everything they once were and are now. Maggie Smith is capable of so much nuance – we see it here as more and more about her past and how that has affected Mathias and Chloé is uncovered in the story.
Maggie Smith showed her skill at nuance in the final scenes of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as well. It makes me want to go back and rewatch The Prime of Miss Jean Brody or some of her earlier work, simply to study her acting. Good heavens, IMDB lists 48 award wins for Maggie Smith – Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and more. It’s amazing when you scroll through it. She’s amazing.
We, as her audience and her fans, are so lucky to have her still working, still acting, and still amazing us with her talent.
I enjoyed the film. It was fascinating. If you watch it, I’d love to hear your reactions.
My Old Lady recently became available on Amazon Prime. Look for it there or on other streaming sites.