Posted by: ritagone | October 15, 2014

A Movie Review

Movie review

A friend of mine suggested recently that I occasionally review movies or TV series that I watch in this blog, because, first of all, I love to do this. In another life, I think I would come back as a film critic, giving my opinion about what I see in the theaters and on television and why I like or dislike something. I like the process of pulling together my thoughts about why something appeals to me or why it doesn’t, and I know just enough about the film and television business to be dangerously opinionated. (And my #1 in Strengthsfinders is Input.) Secondly, if film (and television) are the media by which our culture communicates its feelings and captures who we are as a civilization, then I think it’s important to try to understand what we’re watching and what the impact of a film is and why.

There’s so much out there in the cinema world that is just plain bad, sometimes it’s hard to find anything worth the time and effort to write a review of at all. I’m part of a movie club that meets on the first Tuesday of every month, and somehow it has fallen to me over the last couple of years to be the one who actually selects the movie we go to see. So long about Friday or Saturday, I check to see what’s playing in our area at the multiple multiple-theatered cinema houses around town. Often, I’m surprised at how few choices there are, short of what my husband and I sarcastically refer to as “what blows up” movies, with lots of moving parts and not much heart, obviously appealing to the under 20 crowd. And certainly not enough material for half a dozen to a dozen women to discuss and review and rank (on a scale of from 1 to 10, 10 being highest) over lunch. At those times, I’m fortunate enough to be able to pull something out of our personal DVD collection at home and invite everyone to bring her own lunch and watch in my living room in comfy chairs and a couch. (A few of the ladies have been known to doze comfortably each month at the movie club.)

But I can usually find something worthwhile out there, based on the fact that there has to be a plot and an underlying theme or motif that will make for good discussion over lunch.

This past week, we saw a little sleeper of a movie which starred Kevin Kline, Dame Maggie Smith, and Kristin Scott-Thomas, set in Paris, and given that information about the film, I figured it couldn’t be awful.

It wasn’t.

It was called “My Old Lady,” and it was written and directed by prolific playwright Israel Horovitz, who then adapted it into a screenplay and directed the movie. The basic plotline has to do with a penniless American writer who inherits from his father a Paris flat only to find out that the system of tenant-for-life in France means that he can’t take possession until tenant Maggie Smith dies, and until then he must pay her rent. The plot twists and turns to accomplish what it needs to, but that was the least interesting thing to me.

What fascinated me about this film was the storyline about adultery and its effect on two “children” who are now adults close to 60 years of age. Kline and Scott-Thomas are those adults, and as the movie reveals how damaged these two were by the adultery of their parents, his father and her mother (Smith), it began to occur to me that I hadn’t seen a film that dealt with this theme from the perspective of such “old” victims. You rarely think of adultery as having tentacles that reach into the lives of a son or daughter well into their middle age so that it almost destroys their happiness and their stability.

But that was what this film was about at heart, whether it was intentional or not. (And surely it must have been, because it was way too meaningful to not be intentional.) I wondered if people in the audience who had undergone similar experiences in their childhood and teen years – watching this movie – could relate to the hurt, the betrayal and the inability to stabilize one’s life that were portrayed so well by these brilliant actors. In short, was everyone as moved by the theme of this film as I was, or was I for some reason reading into it more than I should have?

I like movies that don’t hit you over the head thematically, that make you work a bit mentally to “figure it all out.” “My Old Lady” is such a film. In fact, I’m still figuring it all out, still working out the in’s and out’s of the plots and sub-plots to understand what it all means and why I resonated so much with it.

And that’s good filmmaking, if you ask me.

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