There was a lot to admire and like about “Old Cats”. I’m partial to movies that take their time and the opening here was promising as a low-set camera wanders behind a couple of fat old tabbies as they make their way through the claustrophobic confines of an apartment to demand breakfast. This introduces Isadora and Enrique, two very old people who have lived here for many, many years (I wanted to congratulate the set designer until I found out that this was the actual apartment of the actors portraying Isadora and Enrique).
As often happens in stories, it’s a telephone call that knocks everything on its ear. Isadora’s reaction to the thought of a visit by her daughter says it all. This is not going to be a good day. Rosario arrives from Peru, tweaked out on coke and insistent that her mother sign a power of attorney contract so that she can take over the apartment. Rosario kicks the cats, screeches about how her mother never loved her and sulks like a teenager when she doesn't get her way. She is absolutely unlovable…except by her butch girlfriend, Hugo (don’t call me Beatrice), who acts as both buffer and foil.
Mom isn't much of a prize herself but is slipping into dementia and struggling to hide it. An afternoon tea party becomes its own kind of hell with these two at odds with each other. The tension is brutal and you just want to slap Rosario. Isadora wanders away and is lost for several frantic hours while Rosario, Hugo, and Enrique tear around trying to find her. As I feared, this was the set-up for what turned out to be a contrived and sort of lazy resolution.
To “resolve” a life-long rift between an immature, grasping woman and her distant, withholding mother takes more than what two talented Chilean filmmakers can make happen in two hours. The warm fuzzy coming together, however, doesn't last and after Isadora has capitulated, Rosario goes back into full bore manic determination to get that damned apartment. “Old Cats” wants to have its cake and eat it, too. Too bad.