I have been getting sick of films that said nothing, meant nothing, pretended people were happier, prettier, stronger, smarter than they are; and this is NOT one of those films. It is real.
Real, but hopeful. Real, but redeeming to the spirit, exciting in possibilities, darkly funny.
The acting, photography and story were filmed, and written in such a way as to feel thorough enough so you don't feel cheated with skips in the train of though, or made to finish the story yourself in your head.
Kevin Kline plays a 57 year old man (without a bunch of lying makeup to make him better than what a normal person would be), who after 3 failed marriages, has nothing and no one. His father, who was very wealthy, died and left him nothing except for an apartment in Paris. So he uses the last of his money to go there.
He finds that what he thought was his property outright, is not. The property was sold to his father as a "viager" agreement. This is basically a reverse annuity mortgage or Remainder Trust. Where A buys the property, and agrees to allow B to continue to live in the property for as long as they live, AND for as long as they live will also pay them an agreed amount of money, either in a lump sum or in payments.
This is the "Old Lady." But the story is NOT about the old lady. It is an EXAMINATION of what can happen to families when one of the parents cheat. It is about the pain this causes, the devastation it takes on the lives of the victims of the adulterers. And if the story ended just there, this story would be OK but a downer, and not worth watching for me.
There is always a place for people that point out what is wrong in life; but then what? Just saying what is wrong is like complaining, just the beginning of the process. That is depressing if it is just complaining. It drains you. BUT for those that give you an idea of how to fix what is broken, how to move past what is wrong to making it right; now THAT is what most of our souls crave. And what this story helps us do.
There is the damage, the exploration of the damage, the moving past of the tunnel vision on solely the self so that the world starts to come in view again, and then there is hope of life...again. THIS is this film.
In psychology, often you can not speak directly TO people about what they are doing wrong, or what they are feeling in their lives...it is too threatening to them and they will close you out. So therapists often use films. In films you can see what is happening, without getting defensive and blocking the realization.
So this film might help cheaters, understand the pain they cause their wives and children. The children of parents absorbed in their nightmares so that they emotionally abandon the child. The cheated on spouse who thinks they are being brave for their children. IT could help in many combinations there.
The photography, seems a little drab and dark at first. (I often enjoy seeing beautiful places and hope for this when I am watching a movie that is in an exotic place) BUT it is right. It makes you focus on the story, the acting, the people. Which you would not want to miss, like "Today is a shadow of tomorrow" and " A flower when it is at it's most beautiful, is right before it becomes old".
The acting of Kline sometimes seems a little awkward, but this may have been done purposefully as his is an awkward, out of sinc kind of person. AND as in most of what he does, is superb. I don't remembered names, but the other actors, ALL of them right to the bit parts, are extremely well done.
BUT on top of it all, it is a well made, thoughtful film that is entertaining, that you don't feel like you have wasted 1 hour and 40 minutes of your life. A film that leaves you feeling a little emotionally washed and energized to start again with hope.
This film is a gem, a pearl. Savor it when you have the time to really sink in.