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My Old Lady


Stars: Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, Dominique Pinon, Noemie Lvovsky, Stephane Freiss

Director: Israel Horovitz

Nowadays films featuring escapees from ITV’s period soap opera Downton Abbey seem rife on the big screen; presumably making movies enables the escapees to act rather than simply animate small-screen character clichés.

The latest escapee is Maggie Smith, who takes centre screen and acts fit to bust in writer-director Israel Horrowitz’s film adaptation of his play which, despite some attractively chosen and filmed (by Michel Amathieu) Parisian locations, still remains resolutely stage-bound. And, given its genesis (BBC Films are involved in the production which means that (a) you have already paid for it through your TV licence and (b) the film is destined for television), it seems strange that My Old Lady was filmed in widescreen given its still frequently stagey staging.

Smith plays a 92-year-old Parisian living in a lush Parisian apartment which broke, bitter and depressed one-time alcoholic and three-times divorced (now that's complete characterisation) American Kevin Kline inherits from his father only to find Smith is an unable to be evicted sitting tenant who, thanks to French law, has absolutely no intention of packing up and letting Kline have his inheritance. She does allow Kline to stay in one room while he finds out the worst and upsets Smith’s daughter, played with her usual lack of warmth and charm by Kristin Scott Thomas.

If you like your films stagey and unconvincing, Horowitz is your man. Personally, I’d wait until this turns up on television and even then switch channels.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Artificial Eye. Colour.
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 01 Dec 2014