Mr. Morgan, irreproachably interpreted by Michael Caine, a retired widowed philosophy professor from Maine who has been living in Paris for some time, is the protagonist of this exciting film. Mr. Morgan’s last love theme is not new, however the film brings in a new philosophical perspective.
Despite the fact that he has been living for some time in the City of Lights and his former wife’s efforts to teach him the melodious language of love (that would be French), Mr. Morgan still does not understand any French.
After the loss of his wife, Mr. Morgan goes into a daily routine that fills the gray of his days after he is forced to live without the company of his beloved wife. Matthew Morgan has imaginary conversations with his wife’s ghost (Jane Alexander) on the streets of the city or alone on an isolated bench. For the few passersby, he himself seems a strayed ghost in the desolate scenery of a dry winter day.
!!! spoiler alert (do not read if you don’t want to)
But one day a miracle happens: a young dance instructor (interpreted by Clémence Poésie) breaks the monotony of his days with her solar presence, breaking his perfect defense mechanism against a reality that he rejected from all of his heart, a defense mechanism he had carefully built it up until that meeting.
The former philosophy professor becomes infatuated with the young blonde, whose hair is particularly attracting to him as it reminds him of the hair of his late wife, projecting upon her the youthful image of his former wife. And while it is clear that the young blonde girl gives him back the joy of living, he is still failing to find her place in the well-established pattern of his experiences. However, Pauline, the dance instructor, only feels a delightful angelic pity for him, like for the father she has lost.
The positive impact of their encounter is metaphorically represented by the light that penetrates the heavy curtains through which the strip of light is passing through his dark apartment. That light can be likened to the appearance of a ray of hope in the dark severe depression he was fighting with. Besides, the film starts with Matthew’s suicide attempt interrupted by a housekeeper knocking on the door.
Mr. Morgan was fighting depression when met Pauline
After another unsuccessful suicide attempt, Mr. Morgan is taken to the hospital. With this occasion, his two mature children living in the USA: a boy (played by Justin Kirk) recently left by his wife, and a girl played by Gillian Anderson) with a dysfunctional family, are traveling to visit him.
In addition to the luggage they came with, Matthew’s children involuntarily brought the emotional ballast of the tense relationship between them and their father (it seems that the gentle Mr. Morgan, the famous philosophy professor, was not exactly the best father in the world). They both conclude that the nature of their father’s relationship with Pauline is … a dubious one, suspecting her of evil intentions.
Mr. Morgan defends her a little too much, but the children soon realize that things are not as they suspected. Matthew’s son, Miles, will end up falling in love with the beautiful Pauline, and the relationship between them will develop right under the father’s sad eyes. However, the old man will soon console himself with the loss of Pauline, and gives her his wife’s holiday home heritage – the apple of discord between father and his children.
—end of spoiler alert —
Long story short: the movie gradually reveals a true paternal transfer, combined with an erotic one, an emotional ambivalence, love, and hate in the same cocktail. One of Pauline’s remarks that emphasize this fact is: “You know what it is like when you love somebody so much that you start hating it? “.
The film invites to introspection of your own projections and to find a meaning of life at any point in life, no matter how close it is to the end. I loved the idea that it is love that brings forth the longing for life.