When an actor has been around as long as Sir Michael Caine, it is easy to forget how good he can be in the right role. His prolific career is peppered with parts that he obviously did just for the cash and then there are the priceless gems - Milo Trindle in Sleuth, love-struck Elliott in Hannah and Her Sisters and soulful Frank in Educating Rita - which are beyond brilliant.
The grieving widower in Sandra Nettelbeck's adaptation of Françoise Dorner's book La Douceur Assassine could have been another corker for Caine, but there is not enough light and shade in the misery-drenched script to facilitate such a performance.
More's the pity as Caine gets within a hair's breadth of the emotional wringer. But a film about the impact of bereavement without any side show is tedious for the audience. Light relief, albeit from a lonely directionless young woman comes in the shape of charming Clémence Poésy, who plays a cha cha teacher called Pauline. A serendipitous meeting on a bus brings Pauline into the life of mournful Mr Morgan, an American in Paris whose accent is stranded somewhere between Boston and Bow.
Dialect aside, the two do a convincing job at having us believe they enjoy each other's company, what with him reminding her of her late father and she bearing physical similarities to his much-missed wife.
As I said, death prevails in this picture, though Paris looks lovely. A failed suicide attempt by Morgan brings his son (Justin Kirk) and daughter (Gillian Anderson) to France and with them the skeletons in the cupboard of their troubled childhood. From this, you don't need me to tell you that it's not a happy film but there are expressions on Sir Michael's face that only a master craftsman can deliver.