Sunday, September 21, 2014

Never Too Old

After an on-the-go day, Saturday night was alright for...a movie.

I was meeting a friend at the Criterion for "My Old Lady," a dreadfully named film by playwright Israel Horovitz, with whom I'm well familiar.

Having seen more than half a dozen of his plays in Richmond over the past few years at Firehouse Theater, I appreciate his ability to walk the line between woe and tenderness.

We were far from the only ones out for a movie tonight and by the time we got our tickets and popcorn, the theater's only available seats were in the third row, meaning the most erect of posture was  necessary.

But it also put stunning scenes of Paris right in our face as the story of an unhappy American whose father wills him a big apartment in the Marais district unfolded.

On arrival, he finds a 92-year old woman (played by the indomitable Maggie Smith) as the occupant living there with her daughter and that the apartment is a "viager," meaning he has to pay her 2400 Euros a month and she has the right to live there until she dies.

Naturally, he's hoping that's sooner rather than later.

Discussing age, she informs him she likes her breakfast every day exactly at 8 a.m., her dinner at 8 p.m. and no lunch because it holds no appeal to her.

"Precision is the key to a long life," she assures him. "And wine."

Advice I intend to take.

He discovers an old photograph of his father and the woman with the inscription. "If you do not love me, I shall not be loved" - a Samuel Beckett quotation that finishes sublimely with "If I do not love you, I shall not love" - and the past rears its convoluted head.

As they get to know each other, we learn that their pasts are more connected than any of them knew and eventually he starts to be attracted to the old woman's daughter.

After he kisses her for the first time, he tells her she's beautiful.

"I'm not beautiful, I'm old," she responds.

In what is a very romantic exchange, he comes back to her the next day and tells her to repeat what she'd said about being old and not beautiful. He's come up with the perfect reply.

"A perfect flower is nearly old," he says, not sure if she'll appreciate his analogy but of course she does.

Well satisfied with a middle-aged romance that began life as a play, we walked out of the theater next to a couple who asked how we had liked it.

They'd started the evening seeing another film and walked out after ten minutes and into "My Old Lady," enjoying it considerably and satisfied that they'd made the right call.

Taking Dame Smith's advice, I invited company over for wine and music, wiling away the rest of the evening listening to the sunny dance pop of J. Views, the languid vocal stylings of Wye Oak and the timeless harmonies of the Spinners while sipping Monmousseau Cuvee J.M. Rose and Aime Roquesante Rose, so creamy tasting after the bubbles that proceeded it.

As to the precision part of longevity, I'll get to that another day, maybe after I stop basking in the glow of being considered comparable to a perfect flower. Nearly old.


  1. this movie is on my a review a couple of weeks ago in the ny times. seemed interesting...maybe it is...


  2. Strong performances, exquisite scenery.