‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’
How could writers Marc Basch and Brett Haley, who also was the director of “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” go wrong with a stellar cast starring Blythe Danner as widow, Carol Petersen, Sam Elliott as sexy hunk, Bill, and a supporting cast with Mary Kay Place, Rhea Perlman, June Squibb, Martin Starr, and Caroline Lagerfelt? They had the stars and a fine ensemble but the story was lacking.
There is Carol, the widow, still mourning her deceased husband after twenty years. She retired from teaching, but retired to what? And, therein lays the problem. Carol is not interesting. Actually, her life is boring. She was not a fully rounded character. Big excitement for Carol is when a rat runs through her pristine home. Even in giving her three girlfriends in Sally (Rhea Perlman), Georgina (June Squibb), and Rona (Mary Kay Place) who live in the upscale senior resort, does not liven up the film. Carol is not a woman one would want to spend time with. What are her interests? What are her hobbies? Why is she hanging onto the memory of her long deceased husband? It appears that she did not make a life for herself. Nothing in her home shows us anything deeper about Carol. Except her dog, Hazel.
As the clock ticks and the sun shines to wake her up in the morning, there is her dog, Hazel. And Hazel is a male. It is never explained why a male dog has a female name. Hazel dies and that flashes back to the loss of Carol’s husband. She plays cards with the girls, but somehow Carol is detached. She comes alive a bit for the young, shy pool cleaner Lloyd (Martin Starr). They form an awkward friendship. It is through Lloyd, we discover that Carol was a former singer. He takes her to a karaoke bar and Carole gets up and sings a credible torch song, “Lover Man.”
By far the best thing in the film is Sam Elliott as Bill, the cigar chomping, flinty eyed romantic interest. Bill runs into Carol at the supermarket, at the club, and plays cat and mouse until he asks her out on a date.
The story got interesting at this point. They two start a relationship which leads to sex. Who could resist Sam Elliott? Bill is retired and lives on a boat. We don’t know much about him either. Elliott gives a strong performance and infuses his character with life. I loved the “chase”, and the build of the relationship. It looks like something, like life will happen and one hoped the film would become more interesting. But, it didn’t. Just as Carol is toying with the idea of having a man in her life, he is written out of the story and is killed off with a sudden, unexpected heart attack. Why would the writer kill off the best thing in the film? It was anticlimactic.
The film had nowhere to go but downhill. Carol could have developed her singing, and created a life for herself. But, nothing happened. She has her girlfriends, her daughter, and her memories of her deceased husband and now deceased friend, Bill. She places his cigar next to her husband’s ashes and that was pretty much the film.
There were nice scenes with Blythe Danner. I liked the speed dating scene. And the gals getting together was fun, especially when they smoked weed. But, the film, which had promise, went nowhere.
Check your local theater listings for show times. It is worth the film to see Blythe Danner and Sam Elliott.