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My Old Lady (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

Check out our review of this rewarding drama about an American who inherits an apartment in Paris only to find that it comes with an unexpected resident.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: Universal - 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 108 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomasm Stephanie Freiss, Dominique Pinon
Written & Directed by: Israel Horovitz based on his play of the same name
Music by: Mark Orton
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 27, 2015

"He’s in the will. She’s in the way"

My Take:

Mathias, a down-and-out New Yorker, travels to Paris to liquidate a huge, valuable apartment he has inherited from his estranged father. Once there, however, he discovers a refined old woman, Mathilde, living in the apartment with her adult daughter, Chloé. Mathias quickly learns that the apartment is a "viager" — an ancient French system for buying and selling apartments — and that he will not actually get possession of the apartment until Mathilde dies, and that he, in addition to that, owes her a life annuity of € 2400 a month. This all comes as unpleasant news, leaving him with little recourse but to try and make the best of it.

Based on his play of the same name My old lady was written and directed for the big screen by Israel Horovitz and is a heartfelt and darkly comedic drama about surprising inheritances and unexpected connections. Feeling much like a play its scope and character base is limited, hinging on the intimacy of its subject matter and the strength of its performances. As played by the wonderfully affable Kevin Kline, central figure Mathias isn’t especially likeable early on. The storyline moves slowly, carefully associating the characterizations in order to connect the dots for what is to come. I think Horovitz succeeds at baiting the hook followed by jerking the line with the emotional connection needed to bring the audience around.

I must admit to initially feeling as though the script lacked focus moving in roundabout directions. In reality this is purposefully done and to good effect because slowly but surely you find yourself invested. Mathias transforms from an unsympathetic someone to a sympathetic charmer you can care about. There is a bit of a twist that you may or may not see coming but the true essence of the story lies in the building of relationships and the heartwarming elements at its center. The humor is subtly mature and expertly conveyed through the spot on chemistry between Kevin Kline and Maggie Smith. By the time the credits rolled both my wife and I commented aloud, that we thought it ended much stronger than it began.

My old lady isn’t going to win Best Picture but it’s a well-conceived and thoughtful human drama that might just surprise you.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic material and some sexual references.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

My Old Lady comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3 Mbps.

This is a good looking presentation from Universal that has a nicely balanced look that falls just shy of the definitive delineation offered by the best high definition available on Blu-ray Disc. Images onscreen exhibit plenty of fine rendering and crisp definition that on occasion rises to higher levels especially during close ups which can be very revealing. Long range shots appear resolute with good dimensional depth and notable object detail. The beautiful geographic locations and vista views of France look great in high definition. Bright exterior segments are punchy with crisp dynamic whites and appreciable texture. Colors aren’t overly engaging as the palette is limited to sepia tones and drab secondary hues that don’t offer much to catch the eye. Rendering is excellent though and the balance is kept in proper focus which mates well with the films overall visual perspective. Fleshtones are tonally divergent and appear lifelike in depiction. Blacks are respectable for the most part but appear a bit inconsistent as depth can be scene dependent. Shadow detail is quite good and reveals plenty of visible delineation in dark backgrounds and low lighting. I didn’t detect any deleterious artifacts or other video related anomalies.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix features dialogue that is full bodied with defining tonal characteristics and prominent soundstage position. High level detail is readily apparent as subtle sound effects, music and voices were rendered with superior clarity and depth. There is little call for active surround activity and extended dynamics however there is frequent use of atmospheric sounds that broaden the soundstage to reproduce the venues being depicted onscreen. This is a gratifying audio presentation, with an open and balanced presence that helps drive the film’s thematic elements.

Bonus Features:
  • (HD) 92nd Street Y with Annette Insdorf: Interview with Kevin Kline & Israel Horovitz – 57 minutes
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Written and directed by Israel Horovitz, based on his play of the same name My Old Lady is slow burning but ultimately rewarding drama about life’s way of sometimes making lemonade out of lemons. It comes to Blu-ray from Universal Studios featuring pleasing high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and a single but insightful Q&A with the film’s writer/director and actor Kevin Kline. My Old Lady isn’t the kind of film that stays with you long after it’s over but makes for a great way to spend an evening when you’re in the mood for a decent drama.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7702 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

Ralph C. Potts
Blu-ray Reviewer
My Home Theater
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post #2 of 2 Old 01-26-2015, 02:17 PM
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I'd sign up to watch Maggie Smith read the phone book.
I'd sign up to watch Kristin Scott Thomas just standing there.
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