There’s little about this overly fruity adaptation by American playwright Israel Horovitz of his own 2002 Paris-set stage play to suggest that the original was especially worthy of becoming a film. It’s essentially a three-hander performed by the arresting trio of Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott Thomas, each of them playing characters with demons to face up to. Kline’s dishevelled Mathias, a failed playwright, arrives in Paris to claim an apartment left to him by his much-loathed late father. He’s soon embroiled in archaic French law when he realises the opulent home he’s inherited comes complete with an elderly woman, Mathilde (Smith) and her daughter (Scott Thomas), to whom he must pay a monthly fee while they remain there until the old woman dies.
Soon complicated links emerge between players dead and alive, and there’s much unconvincing, hysterical soul searching and swigging from wine bottles. The cast fail to gel and the tone of the film sways uneasily between melodrama and something more gentle. It’s too twee and theatrical to take seriously.