I’ll See You in my Dreams is the kind of comedy many people like to see after a hard week. It shines the spotlight on an older woman, Carol (Danner), who is widowed, enjoying her somewhat solitary life, but open to new experiences if someone else will take the lead. She has three bridge/golf friends who are like family, and they all live close to one another in a retirement complex on a golf course. Sally (Perlman) is always trying to fix Carol up with someone, and even hauls her off to a speed-dating event one evening. Rona (Place) is the more curious one, and unexpectedly stops by Carol’s house from time to time, creating a few awkward moments. Georgina (Squibb) is a good sport and most like the typical older woman.Carol, a singer and schoolteacher in her younger days, starts getting acquainted with a young man (Starr) who comes by to clean her pool. Lloyd is an aspiring poet/singer, who ignores the age gap and likes to “hang out” with Carol. He takes her to a karaoke bar one evening, and they clearly hit it off. Enter a contemporary of Carol’s, Bill (Elliott), who likes her looks and smoothly gets her to go out with him. He has a boat called “So What”, which says something about the man. For the first time in 20 years, Carol is confronted with the possibility of getting married again.
With both men, the conversations turn to future plans and considerations about achieving a balance between living in the moment and working toward some future goal. In talking with Lloyd, Carol observes that we wait our whole lives for something that we’re sure to get sooner or later. It’s death, she says, with a bit of black humor. The film does a good job in contrasting different perspectives about life between younger and older folks.
Brett Haley, the young director and writer with Marc Basch, is well rounded in his acting, producing and editing experience. In Dreams, he has taken what could be light, even silly, entertainment and given it emotional depth and weightier subjects to think about. The film draws laughter as well as some tears and joie de vivre. He and his also young co-writer Marc Basch should be complimented for capturing the older years in life so well.
Blythe Danner has a solid reputation as an actress in both film and television. As Carol, her performance is engaging, but I think her character is written to be somewhat reserved and distant, which turned me off a bit. I felt sorry for her daughter and her friends sometimes in situations where she could have shared more and been more warmly responsive, and looks unnecessarily withholding. Both Sam Elliott and Martin Starr played characters as a study in contrasts, with each showing himself in naturalistic ways. Starr as Lloyd is particularly moving when he sings a song for Carol towards the end of the film.
A loving comedy with soul.
Grade: B By Donna R. Copeland