Lina Lamont

"What do you think I am, dumb or something?"

My Old Lady

An American (Kevin Kline, playing it surprisingly straight) returns to Paris to claim his inheritance in the form of a sprawling, valuable apartment in the Marais district – the type with myriad cluttered rooms but only one poky toilette. With nothing to show for his 57 years on Earth, the self-involved victim of upbringing is hoping to make a quick sale and bail back to New York. But the old lady he finds living in his apartment has other ideas.

Starring Dame Maggie Smith and Francophone Kristin Scott-Thomas, the buyer who may be expecting berets, baguettes and cynical witticisms à la Dowager Countess of Grantham had better beware: this family melodrama pulls no punches and promises few laughs. Instead, it impresses with fine acting (once Scott-Thomas stops dialling it up to 11) and some touchingly plausible responses to life-shattering revelations.

But the typical accordion soundtrack is suited to lighter fare, the tone is shifty and ultimately the film is an uncomfortable juxtaposition of cringy and affecting.

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