Despondent New Yorker Mathias Gold (Kevin Kline
) ventures to Paris with plans of liquidating the apartment inherited from his late father, but runs into an unexpected roadblock when he discovers that the flat is currently inhabited by his father's former lover, an elderly Englishwoman named Mathilde Girard (Maggie Smith
), and her adult daughter Chloé (Kristin Scott Thomas
). Realizing he's reached an impasse after learning that Mathilde can legally collect regular payments from him until her death, Mathias convinces her to enter into a tentative lodging agreement that's complicated by Chloé's suspicion over his meetings with a predatory property developer with an eye on the apartment. Later, tensions begin to subside as Mathias and Chloé find a common ground in sharing stories about their troubled childhoods, and Mathilde reveals a secret that connects the trio in ways that once seemed impossible.