First Hit: Powerful acting in a dark film about the effect of affairs on family.
This was a very pointed film about how an affair can affect a child’s view of themselves and the world around them.
Mathias Gold (Kevin Kline) has nothing left except an apartment, in Paris, left to him by his estranged father. He travels to Paris to claim his inheritance only to discover that Mathilde Girard (Maggie Smith) and her daughter Chloe Girard (Kristin Scott Thomas) both live in the apartment.
In French law someone can sell their apartment (Girard) to someone else, in this case Mathias Gold’s father, and the new owner pays the old owner a monthly fee while continuing to live there. This is a way that an apartment can be sold for a bargain and the old owner has a place to stay, some money in hand and an ongoing income.
Mathias discovers that Mathilde was his father’s lover. With this set up, the actors explore the dynamics of how this affects the families of the people having the affair. Paris, the city of love, is highlighted here as shots of the neighborhood where the apartment rests, and the Seine are wonderful.
The dynamic of Chloe and Mathias is pointed, extraordinary, while the emotionally blind Mathilde slowly becomes aware of the impact of her past actions.
Kline was amazing in the range of his pain and charm as expressed when he tells Chloe of his mother’s death and his singing of an aria with a stranger on the Seine. Smith was powerful in her own belief that what she did was OK, and as she begins to see what effect it had on others. Scott Thomas’ transition from arrogance to compassion for both herself and Mathias was a site to behold - sublime. Israel Horovitz wrote and directed this powerful yet dark film.
Overall: This was a very good film, and it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.