An apartment in the Marais arrondissement of Paris comes with complications and family secrets, writes Stephanie Gray.
Mathias (Kevin Kline) is a 50something failure. He is thrice divorced and, not coincidental, has written three unpublished novels.
The death of his father--who has otherwise given all his money to charity--has opened the door to potential prosperity. His father has left him the keys to a beautiful Parisian apartment, but there is just one problem: the 90-year old who has lived there for 70 years and has no plans to leave. Mathilde (Maggie Smith) is living under a viager (pron. vyajay), an ancient French system for buying and selling apartments. Mathias does not get possession of the apartment until Mathilde dies. Mathilde also stuns him by telling him that, to abide by the rules of viager, he must pay her a monthly fee until she dies, or risk losing the apartment.
Freshly arrived from New York City, Mathias has based his future plans on the apartment. Broke, with no plane ticket home and nowhere to stay, Mathias had hoped to sell the apartment and then begin figuring out the next step in his life.
Mathilde is kind enough to allow him to stay until he sorts himself out and even invites him to join her for her impromptu evening dinners!
Mathias finds himself caught up in the obligations of the viager. He must find a way to earn some cash and also find someone to take over the viager.
As well as trying to resolve his financial difficulties, Mathias must also deal with Mathilde's protective and prickly daughter Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas).
Chloe's life seems to echo Mathias' own, as she engages in a messy affair with a married man and begins to wonder about her past.
With the apartment in the middle, the trio soon learn that the connections between them go beyond a piece of paper.
Stephanie Gray is an RN with the Australian Red Cross Blood Services
IN CINEMAS November 13
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