“I’ll See You in My Dreams” (2015)
Carol (Blythe Danner) is a widow of over twenty years. She lives alone with her dog and has a daily routine that she sticks to without fail. She has friends with whom she plays bridge and golf with, but most of her days are quite predictable. She gets up at six, reads the paper with a cup of coffee, gardens during the day and ends her day with her dog at the foot of the bed while she drinks a glass of wine and watches a bit of TV. Her world is changed by two events: she has to put her beloved dog down, and she meets her new pool cleaner, a young man named Lloyd (Martin Starr).
Carol realizes in talking to Lloyd that she is in a bit of a rut. While happy in her life, she realizes that she just might want more and begins to try things out of her comfort zone. Even the disaster of a speed dating round at the local retirement community doesn’t deter her. She goes with Lloyd to a karaoke bar and discovers the world of bad singing and appletini’s. She then meets a man named Bill (Sam Elliott), someone who is going to push Carol to examine her life in a little more detail.
“I’ll See You in My Dreams” is that rare film, part romantic comedy, part drama, whose main character is over sixty and a woman. The film doesn’t always work, but it’s an earnest attempt at exploring the possibilities of life when older and alone.
The weakest points of this film are when it tries to do broad comedy. The disastrous speed dating sequence is played strictly for laughs, compete with a herpes joke. A highly predictable set of scenes where Carol and her three girlfriends get high and hit the grocery store for munchies just doesn’t fit the rest of film. It’s too over the top and encounter with a cop as they stumble back home from the store, goes on way too long.
What makes this film click is the marvelous performances in the film, especially by Danner and Elliott. Elliott is perfect, displaying his usual manly, gruff exterior, but letting us see that his character has both a sense of humor and tenderness. Elliott can do more with just a smirk and a wink than many actors can do with whole scenes, and it’s obvious that he is having a blast making this film. His scenes with Danner are the best part of the film. Their chemistry is through the roof, and they play off each other with ease. They give the audience the idea that these two characters truly care about each other, and the sparks between them are there right from the start. Danner is phenomenal in the part of Carol, commanding the screen, even when she is on the screen with Elliott. Danner makes us fall in love with Carol, and we are rooting for her right from the start, hoping that she will find love again.
Martin Starr, as the thoughtful poet who is moonlighting as a pool guy, is equally compelling. He has some significant scenes with Danner, as their two characters become friends over the pool, some wine and a rat that keeps showing up in Carol’s house. Starr has a tendency to play very quirky, nerdy roles but in this film he is very restrained and gives a delightful performance of a man who is trying to find his way in the world, something that Lloyd and Carol bond over. The supporting cast of Rhea Perlman, June Squibb and the captivating Mary Kay Place, who play Carol’s band of friends, is equally strong. I especially like the scenes between Place and Danner, displaying a warm and true friendship.
Director Brett Haley directs the rather large cast with a steady hand. It’s obvious that he cares about the characters, especially Carol and propels the story along with a sense of purpose and affection. While the movie has its cliché’s and a couple of cheap laughs, it still treats its subject matter with a gentle touch, making us appreciate Carol’s journey of self-discovery and search for maybe even love. My Rating: Full Price
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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