Movie Review - I'll See You in My Dreams (2015)
Blythe Danner stars as Carol Peterson, a woman who has been widowed for 20 years. She's a retired teacher who now lives alone since her daughter moved out and her golden retriever passed. She has girlfriends with whom she visits and plays cards but they all live at a retirement home, and Carol's loneliness is becoming a bit more pronounced. All this changes when two men enter her life.
Martin Starr (Silicon Valley) co-stars as Lloyd, a young guy who still lives with his parents and is trying to figure himself out. He is hired to work to clean swimming pools. He actually replaces Carol's usual pool cleaner. What bonds Lloyd to Carol is her need to have him kill a rat that's invaded her home, as well as his discovery that both share a love of music.
Sam Elliott (Up in the Air and The Contender) also co-stars as Bill, a fellow retiree who lives at the same retirement home as Carol's friends. He's tall, handsome, deep-voiced, very confident, strong and smokes cigars. Every time Carol visits the home, he's always eye-balling her. He impresses Carol with his forwardness, strength and similarity in outlook. He smoothly and elegantly wines-and-dines her, making it all the more romantic.
However, a bit of comedy comes from the chemistry between Carol and Lloyd. There's an obvious age difference, yet the two of them start hanging out in a way that could be construed as the two of them dating. At several points, it even makes sense that the two might kiss, but the screenplay by Brett Haley and Marc Basch never goes there. The script in subtler ways and in ways that allow actors to convey it underscores why the two are in a romance but not a sexual one, just instead a sweet friendship.
Bill, despite his age, and embodied perfectly by Elliott, is clearly the obvious sex symbol. He's also the spark that Lloyd can't be to Carol for her to open herself up in ways that she hasn't done in decades. Haley and Basch's script indicates a rut that Carol has had leading up to this. More to explicate that, or, build-up of her back story would have been preferred. Yet, a funny, speed-dating scene and an amazing karaoke scene, while both cliche, do allow Danner to bridge any gaps in the script with her on-point and moving performance.
Danner as Carol does a rendition of "Cry Me a River" and it's absolutely heartbreaking and wonderful to say the least. Even watching her as she listens to Starr as Lloyd performing the titular song, written by Keegan DeWitt, is heartbreaking and wonderful.
Haley who co-wrote the script is also director here. It's his second feature and he has a great, supporting cast, including Rhea Pearlman (Cheers) as Sally, June Squibb (Nebraska) as Georgina and Mary Kay Place (Big Love) as Rona. He gives them a pretty, funny set-piece, but he really could have done more with them, like having them all in the speed-dating scene or meeting both men and sizing them up.
Yet, it's a sweet story. There aren't many films that center on women of this age-group that don't star Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren, and aren't a biopic or some historical piece. Another comparable, recent film is Gloria, the Chilean movie starring Paulina García. This film is less charged than Gloria. This film is a more elegant, lighthearted affair.
Four Stars out of Five.
Rated PG - 13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 35 mins.