My Old Lady

Synopsis: Mathias, a penniless fifty-odd-year-old New Yorker, lands in Paris. Both cynical and at the end of his tether, he looks forward to selling the mansion house his late father owned in the Marais district. But what he finds out there just appalls him: his secretive dad had never told him he had acquired the property as a life lease, a typically French custom he never heard of. As a consequence, not only will poor Mathias be unable to sell the house into cash (at least as long as Mathilde stays alive) but he will have to pay the old lady a pension into the bargain...!
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Israel Horovitz
Production: Cohen Media Group
  1 win & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
107 min







Nobody home?


Anyone here?

Excuse me.



- Oh, God!

- Oh, mon Dieu!

I'm sorry. Je suis dsol.

I-I think... I think it would

be better for both of us...

if you spoke in English.

Yes. Good. Well, the door

downstairs was open, and I just...

You're Mathias.

I'm Mathias, yes.

I actually call myself Jim.

But, I like Mathias.

How do you know my name?

Matre Brinot told me

you'd be stopping by.

The lawyer, Christophe Brinot.

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, the lawyer.

For the apartment. Yes.

See, I inherited this

apartment from my father.

- He died and left it.

- I'm... I'm Madame Girard.

Mathilde Girard.

Okay. Well, nice to meet you.

Do you think...

Could you show me around?

Could I...

Oh, y-yes. Yes, I could.

Of course... I could.

There are... There are quite

a few rooms upstairs.

Y-yeah. A lot.

I went up there before I saw you.

No, I haven't been up there in years.

My legs are useless.

Some of the rooms haven't

been used for, oh, 30 years.

And this... this...

is the Salon d'Hiver.

In its time it was a glorious room.

We had wonderful parties out there...

in the garden.

Wait. That garden is...

That's part of the property?

A garden like that in the middle

of Paris must be worth a fortune.

That's awfully nice.

A little out of tune, but...

It's got a nice action.

You look remarkably like your father.

Y-You knew my father?

Did he buy the apartment from you?

Didn't you speak with Matre Brinot?

The lawyer. Y-Yeah, well...

I called him.

No. He doesn't... doesn't speak English.

Not a lot, no. And I haven't

spoken French since I was a kid.

So nobody's...

ever explained the situation.

Wh-Wh-What situation?

Well, this... this apartment...

is a viager.

The word viager...

means, literally, for life.

It's a French system.

You know, for buying

and selling apartments.

The buyer gets the apartment cheaply,

you see, for what we

call a petit bouquet.

But then the buyer...

must pay the seller a fee,

you know, until the seller dies.

I don't quite follow this.

M-my father...

bought this apartment as an

investment 40 years ago.

Oh, no, 43 years ago.

It was after my husband died.

Forty-three years ago.

He owned this apartment until he died

and left it to me in his will,

which was just probated.

You must have inherited quite...

quite a lot.

No. Some books.

His watch. And this apartment.

- In total?

- Period.

Where did the rest go?

- Oh, to who?

- To whom?

- Oh, to whom?

- Yes.

I'm so sorry. I'm sorry.

I taught English for years.

I mean, I've stopped...

I've stopped teaching formally, but I

cannot stop correcting people. Sorry.

So, tell me. Where did the rest go?

He left his money to charity. He didn't

feel comfortable leaving it to me.

Except the apartment.

The apartment and... excuse me.

And... some,

French classics in French,

which should be very useful.

And... that's it. So who's been...

who's been collecting your rent?

It's not rent, you see.

It's a fee, payable to me each month.

I'm sorry. Payable to you?

- To me.

- Until you die?

And not a minute afterwards. Thank you.

Are you kidding?

- Are you kidding?

- Not at all.

It's not a lot of money by today's

standards, for an apartment this size.

2,400 euros...

a month.


I'm responsible?

Well, I've been paid to

the end of the month.

- But when the new month begins...

- So...

What I inherited was a

2,400-euro-a-month debt?

Well, it seems like it, yes.

That's... perfect.

He got me again.

Are you... Are you unwell?

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Israel Horovitz

Israel Horovitz (born March 31, 1939) is an American playwright, director, actor and co-founded of the Gloucester Stage Company in 1979. He served as artistic director until 2006 and later served on the board, ex officio and as artistic director emeritus until his resignation in November 2017 after The New York Times reported allegations of sexual misconduct. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "My Old Lady" STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 22 Jan. 2022. <>.

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