Can it be true? … can Mathias Gold (played by Kevin Kline) finally have had some good fortune? Having grown up in a wealthy New York family, Mathias’ luck hasn’t been great over his life – in fact he’s been quite unhappy. He’s never had a great relationship with his father and he’s had some bad marriages. His father died recently and left Mathias an apartment in Paris – fantastic! It’s got to be worth a fortune, right? – At last, something good’s going to come out of all these traumatic years. Mathias heads to Paris to take a look at his new property. On his arrival, he discovers a fabulous and huge apartment – but there’s one small snag … it’s currently inhabited. But the resident isn’t just a tenant who can be evicted, it’s Madame Mathilde Girard (by Maggie Smith). She lives in the apartment under a decades-old Parisian arrangement, along with her daughter Chloé (by Kristin Scott Thomas). Madame Girard has no intention of moving and expects to stay, along with Chloe, in the apartment until she dies. As a woman in her early nineties, she’s quite fit, so this change doesn’t seem to be coming anytime in the near future. So … luck hasn’t quite dealt Mathias a clear hand here. All he wants to do is sell the apartment for a fair price and get back to New York with the money – so how’s he going to get that done now?
This movie is far deeper and darker than I expected. To start with, the production itself is dark – the Parisian apartment is vast and roomy, but not light. There’s a garden, but it doesn’t offer any joy or freshness either. The moody atmosphere inside the house reflects the nature of the relationships between these people – there are several and they are complex, hence the density of the drama that unfolds. There’s no doubt that Kevin Kline is a brilliant comedy actor, so I thought this may be a far more light-hearted piece than it is. In this serious role he’s very good, as is Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott Thomas. Maggie Smith does play these eccentric old ladies very well. As Chloe, Kristin Scott Thomas is rather predictable and there’s little new here from her, that’s unfortunate as I am a fan of hers. If anything, the movie’s possibly a bit too long – but then again, the story is complex so may need that much time in the telling. It raises multitudes of questions about relationships … When is the best time to reveal truths in families? Who is the one to know what’s best for others? When infidelity is part of a relationship, can that be a long term feature? and Would a relationship work if it was? … these are vexing questions indeed, ones that have more than one “right” answer no doubt. It’s an interesting piece that may cause the viewer to consider it long after the movie ends.
Made in 2014. Directed by Israel Horovitz.