by Dan Webster and Bonnie Anderson
Amidst all of the big box office draws this summer comes a lovely little movie about the heart and soul of the human condition…love.
There’s an alluring cast that brings characters alive in sweet and subtle ways. Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, Mary Kay Place, June Squibb and Rhea Perlman are so good. Director Brett Haley must have had a great time working with such an ensemble.
But we all know all-star casts don’t ensure a cinematic hit. You need a story. Haley, and writer Marc Basch, give us a journey into a tough time of life. A widow is facing loss and loneliness. Carol Peterson (Danner) lost her husband 20 years ago, lives alone but plays bridge with friends (Perlman, Place, and Squibb) at a retirement home. They keep trying to convince Carol to move in there so she can meet some nice man. She balks.
Enter the pool boy. He helps Carol rediscover her singing voice at a karaoke bar. They talk about the past and the future. He’s clearly infatuated with her.
The best pick up line ever (for those of us of a certain age) happens when Carol is looking at vitamins in a drug store. A handsome, white-haired stranger named Bill (Elliott) walks by and says, “You don’t need those. You’re fine just as you are.”
She and Bill have wonderful, romantic dinners. He brings flowers once when picking her up for a date. It is all quite tender and sweet. Her girlfriends are cheering her on. The script really challenges the notion of aging gracefully. In real life it can be tough; most of the time it is.
Without giving away too much of what happens, just know this is well worth seeing. There is sadness and joy. It’s hard to have one without the other in real life. There’s humor and disappointment, loss and discovery. People of faith will pick up on themes of reconciliation, redemption and rebirth.
So after you’ve seen all the 3D special effects on the screen this summer and are looking for something a bit more down to earth, check out ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ and be uplifted.
Bonnie Anderson is a very active lay leader in her parish, diocese and in the wider Episcopal Church. She is an experienced community organizer and lives in suburban Detroit. Dan Webster is an Episcopal priest in Baltimore, Maryland and a former broadcast news executive. But don’t expect only east coast urban perspectives here. As it turns out, we both grew up in Southern California. They blog about films and faith atFaith Reels.