Saturday, November 22, 2014

My type of old lady

Often films about old people get confused, which on one level is understandable.

Confused is better than trite, eg Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

Confused is better than false, eg Quartet (2012)
Not wanting to be tricked again, I read reviews of "My Old Lady" before chancing my arm. It ticked lots of boxes for me: set in Paris; with Maggie Smith; with Kristin Scott Thomas; and, with Kevin Kline. Smith I first saw in "Travels with my Aunt" (1972). Scott Thomas I first saw in "An English Patient" (1996). Kline I first saw in "Sophie's Choice" (1982).
But, would the script treat the actors with respect? Would it manipulate the setting, to ensure it carried an American audience with it? Would the story have layers, that are gradually peeled back, or be one-dimensional and obvious? I am not fond of romantic comedies, as generally they are not funny. I do not like films that are neatly tied come the credits. I like to walk out of the cinema with options to mull over.
Margaret & David were not much help, on this occasion. She wanted to hit the characters, and shake them out of their maudlin self-pity. A review in The (English) Telegraph though the film to be "a tedious waiting game". Now this was looking up ... I like films where little happens. Doors slamming, and people running, and shouting, do NOT a film make. I read The Guardian a lot, but their reviewer thpought the film a "confection". I wonder if that meant soft and fluffy, or whether it meant totally made up. I finally decided to give the film a go once I read a review in The Herald-Sun by Leigh Paatsch. Blimey, I thought to myself, the Herald_sun. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel of the Murdochracy!
Paatsch said, "This is sensible, straightforward mature-age viewing, devoid of dumb jokes, cheap thrills or goofy gimmicks".

So, I wobbled off down to Dendy Opera-Quays for the midday session. My stomach no longer churns when I see the age of the audience, and the sea of grey in front of me. I keep my opinions to myself, and silently judge any poor, old biddy who dares voice hers! Hypocracy, thy name is self!
I was engrossed. The setting, the Marais, and both Parc Royale, and Square George Cain, along Rue Payenne. was woven seamlessly into the story. The ensemble was truly fine, although there was a touch of the original play in the structure of the narrative. I do not think the final scene was necessary. I would have ended with Smith looking down from that stunning observatoire as Kline topped his father's headstone with a pebble. There was a bit of a rush to tie up some loose ends before the credits, eg the blood test, and the viager contract. A blood test takes weeks to get a result, yet the slimey solicitor had three days to void the contract.
As I blinked my way out onto Sydney Cove, I recalled Scott Thomas' Chloe saying at the beginning, "My mother's a liar. She's 92". One of the joys of this film is that it is difficult to determine what is truth, what is wishful thinking, and what is just sheer confusion, brought on by old age. Which is where I came in ...