A grotesquely cruel old woman terrorises everyone she encounters, to comic effect.
Another feature arrives from the director of Life Is A Long Quiet River, and offers the same acute observations of quirky human behaviour, often hilarious to a distant onlooker. And distant is what any normal person would want to be from a real-life Tatie Danielle, a wealthy and utterly monstrous old woman, whose vile behaviour is often intolerable even from the safe distance of screen fiction.
That's what's wrong with the movie. The old cow is so viciously scheming, cruel and tyrannical, first to her harassed and faithful housekeeper, then to the nephew and his family on whom she parks herself in Paris (extracting every last pound of flesh because she's left them her money), that it's very difficult to swallow the film-maker's unmistakeable suggestion that actually she's not such a bad old stick after all...
Nonetheless, sandwiched between the tediously slow opening sequences and the unbelievable conclusion, is a middle hour of deliciously wicked comedy in which one is on the edge of one's seat wondering what the next horrific incident is going to be, as Tatie practically wrecks her family's lives and literally destroys their nice, respectable Paris flat. There's lots of fun, too, when a 'baby sitter' is hired to take care of her while the family are on hols, because the girl gives as good as she gets.
A curate's egg of a film, then - good, in fact very good in parts, extremely tiresome at others and, like Long Quiet River, brilliantly well cast and acted. It's been a mega-hit with the French whom it subtly mocks, and if nothing else, it's certainly unusual. It should have half a star less than it's given, but we at Empire don't go in for half measures!
Good, in fact very good in parts, with an excellent cast, though it's extremely tiresome at times.