I'll See You in My Dreams movie full length review - Danner shines in a patronising tale
Blythe Danner, best known as Gwyneth Paltrow's mother, is such a knockout even in her 70s, prominently typecast as the benign wife-or-mother of our protagonists (off the top o
f my head is MEET THE PARENTS trilogy), finally is tapped as the leading player of indie director Brett Haley's second feature, she plays Carol, a widow who has lost her husband in an airplane crash 20 years ago, finally allows herself to embrace a new romance and friendship after losing her loyal dog Hazel in the beginning of the movie.
So, can anyone buy the prerequisite that Carol has been shut herself out for an entire 20- year span without dating anyone? It is an absolutised convenience in the writing process which will boomerang this well-intentioned and earnestly crafted picture, in reality, we all can assume that a woman as gorgeous as Carol, and under her circumstances after becoming a widow, the odds of being devoid of any romantic courtship or pursuit are bordering on zero, men are not that blind to let her slip away easily. If the protagonist is one of Carol's friends, either Sally (Perlman), Rona (Kay Place) or Georgia (Squibb), the prerequisite would make much more sense. Yet, in Haley's concoction, a pungent implication is triggered by setting up Rona as the actual witness of Carol's involvements with Bill (Elliott), a wealthy elder bachelor and Lloyd (Starr), the young pool cleaner, thus, from Rona's mixed feeling, it reflects the superior advantage of ageing gracefully, you can be a cougar and also get the best from your own peer. That will be an intentional and vengeful projection against male chauvinism which can be often misinterpreted as feminism.
The passing of Hazel proffers an ostensible excuse for Carol's resurgence on the market, but what is the more potent driving force? We can not get any clue, so only if the 20-year hibernation had been omitted in the script, without the over-dramatic treatment, the film would develop more convincingly in its narrative. And after one fleeting romance and one profound friendship, the movie finishes with Carol finding a new puppy, a finely arranged ending indicates a more realistic exit.
Danner is charismatic, exuberant and affable to watch, whether belts out CRY ME A RIVER in a karaoke night or sensualises the twilight romance with Bill, is this year finally she can harvest some awards recognition? Considering what a strong year for woman, her prospect looks rather dim, maybe a Golden Globe nomination will be her biggest consolation prize. Martin Starr as Lloyd, whose bond with Carol starts with an intruding rat, then gets cozy with wine and their mutual passion for music, and concludes with the capture of the rat and a platonic but sincere hug, Starr occasions a palpable intensity through his gaze, warm but with subdued fervour, which betrays that in his book, their rapport might not just stay at the friendship level and it is a great relief they are not going down in the cougar town, no mismatched may-December stunt to complicate the situation, at least, the film can give some credit for Carol on that ground. Still, it is small probability event what the movie depicts, few has the privilege to age like Carol, and happiness shouldn't be the privilege of those Carols either, there are many Sallys, Ronas and Georgias, whose lives are equally deserving an adaptation, yet I wonder any picture is willing to have a crack at that!