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Matthew Morgan is a retired American professor in his eighties, a widower. He lives in Paris and speaks no French. Since his wife's death, he's marking time. His curiosity is piqued when he meets Pauline Laubie, half his age, a dance instructor. She's also a solitary person, but wants the connection of family. She believes she's found that in Matthew, and she attends to him during a hospitalization. When his two adult children arrive from the U.S. to check on their father, they are certain Pauline is a gold digger, and she's confounded by the distance between father and children. The daughter heads home, the son remains. Is there any way that Pauline fits in?Written by
Very intelligent and and sincere until it becomes stupid and manipulative
What starts as a very intelligent, well-acted movie about the nature of relationships and the need for connection, turns dramatically and disappointingly into a sentimental mushpile of a soap opera, and then gets worse. Extremely well-acted up to a point, the characters are fleshed out as real people and you can for the most part understand and empathize with them. Michael Caine's weird attempt at an American accent doesn't quite undermine his characterization of the professor, but it is distracting and sounds too false. He did a pretty OK American accent in Cider House Rules, but nowhere else.
I was very impressed by most of this movie, including the pretty scenery, and the nicely conceived and rounded characters. About 2/3 of the way through however, it goes off the rails. Another reviewer described this movie as having sincerity, and I would agree with that up to a point. There are few false notes in the script, but when they happen they are real clunkers that drag the movie down like an anchor. This may be because the rest of the movie is so sincere and real that the false notes feel just that more false, but I don't think that's quite it.
There is a very soap opera moment at around the 3/4 point which not only feels contrived, but which pulls the story in a really unsatisfying direction. While it's headed in this disastrous direction it's actually succeeding in giving the characters life in a meaningful and sincere way, but then another ridiculous plot device drives it further into the ground. And then another. And another.
And the ending is just stupid. Unwatchably preposterously stupid. Given what we know these characters have gone through, and how much they've grown as human beings, it's outside the realm of believability and is antithetical to the story, erasing the purpose of the movie and voiding its intelligence with a single swipe. Worse, the movie wants you to view the ending as having the sort of lofty nobility that would cause you to leap out of your seat and applaud, which I find personally disgusting. Would that I had leaped out of my seat earlier and left. If that particular ending was in the original source material, then so much the worse for the source material because as portrayed it didn't do the movie any favors.
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