I’ll See You In My Dreams

I doubt audiences will be lining up to see a film about a widowed 70 year old, pondering life’s cruel reasons for her loneliness. It’s their loss if they don’t, I’ll See You In My Dreams is not only charming and delightful, it’s the three dimension lead role Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents) has been waiting for. From a film career beginning in 1972, the mother of Gwyneth Paltrow, has never been better on the big screen. Supported by a hearty cast, this rare dramedy reminding us how underserved the over 50 demographic is at the box office. Writer/director Brett Haley and his partner Marc Basch have very astutely tapped into the world of this lonely and somewhat resentful woman. He 72-year-old Danner remarked at the Dallas Independent Film Festival she was amazed at their insight into the age group.

Carol Peterson (Danner) lost her husband 20 years ago in a plane crash, her only daughter (Akerman) lives across the country and she refuses to join her friends at the local Marina Del Ray retirement community. For the past 14 years Hazel has been Carol’s constant companion, lying at the foot of her bed every night; Hazel’s ashes will now claim their place alongside her husbands on the mantle. Carol does find laughter playing cards with her dirty minded, nosey and rambunctious friends, or singing karaoke with the young pool man (Starr) while they vent about life and drown their sorrows. Finally, Carol’s life explodes with excitement when Bob (Elliott), a new edition to the retirement community, invites her to join him on his new boat.

Filmmakers breathe life into cinematic old age like we rarely see.

Basch and Haley understand the quiet moments of Carol reading the morning paper, drinking alone, or the heartbreaking close up as the tears run down her face saying goodbye to her dog, are equally as important as the hilarious scene where the senior citizens are caught off their rocker, so to speak, pushing a shopping cart down the street. It’s those insights Danner referenced that make I’ll See You in My Dreams more profound than maybe it should be. With the help of Danner’s wonderfully developed performance the audience is brought into her world and allowed to understand and empathize. The filmmakers breathe life into cinematic old age like we rarely see. In describing the film, someone said, “It’s not a movie about old people. It’s a film about people who happen to be old”.

The pace is probably going to be the toughest element for a younger audience, because like Carol’s discussion about living in the moment, it is in no hurry to find the end. The opening sequence losing Hazel left me a bit perplexed, why open a film on such a tragic and sad moment when we don’t know what this woman has been through yet? It wasn’t until the very last scene, the opening made such complete and explosive emotional sense. Even now, it’s difficult to write about, it’s an image and an understanding concerning life and loss that makes this film so very beautiful and special.

Final Thought

Danner is fantastic in a film filled with beautiful and stirring moments.


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