“I’ll See You in My Dreams” stars Blythe Danner in an unexpected "continuing of age" movie. Written by Brett Haley and Marc Basch, the film addresses the 3 L’s of life: Love, Loss, and Loneliness. At a later point in one woman’s life, Carol struggles to find motivation and meaning. With age, wisdom doesn’t always come and life remains a learning curve.
Carol Petersen (Blythe Danner) lives alone with her adorable old yellow lab. She’s content. She’s got a routine and friends. The routine gets slightly ruffled when her new pool boy, Lloyd (Martin Starr) attempts to rescue Carol from a large black rat that has pushed her into sleeping on the pool deck. The two strike up a conversation and before you know it, Carol is branching out and attempting to connect with a larger part of the world once again. It’s been 20 years since she has become a widow and with the help of friends, Carol may just be open to another chapter of her book of life being written.
“I’ll See You in My Dreams” is a softly melodic story about the realities of life as we age. There are ups and downs as we follow the unknown path before us. But when we are young, the road ahead seems endless. As we enter that final quarter, the checkered flag in just up ahead. Finding a reason to “be in the moment” and not worry about that checkered flag and when it’ll be waved appears to be the key to happiness. Like many women, Carol has built walls around herself for protection, but these walls crumble when she meets the confident and suave older Bill (Sam Elliott). Wooing her with his yacht and his charisma, Carol falls for Bill. Her life is open to accepting new experiences as she finds a long-forgotten fullness called happiness.
The film, however, remembers to bring reality into it too. It’s truly much like life--full of ups and downs. The story is wonderfully real as Carol looks to her main support system, her friends, to get her through all of these bumps in life. Carol’s other support is the unlikely new friend, Lloyd. The two have an obvious connection and like so many, the two come into each other’s lives for a reason. Each aspect of this story will strike a chord with those of us over 40 as there is a keen sense of understanding the aging process and the needs in our lives. Pinpointing the nuances that the older generation experiences is highlighted not only in the writing, but also in the acting in this film. Humor in life is just as important as love and “I’ll See You in My Dreams” sprinkles in a bit of that as well. Who can’t find humor in speed dating, let alone this activity for the older group!
Danner is simply stellar in her portrayal of Carol. She’s beautiful, stylish, warm, and confident, but there is a loneliness to her that elicits empathy from the viewer. She struggles each and every day, but puts on a different face to get through these days. We feel each and every experience that she encounters. The youthfulness that love brings her shines in her face and sparkles in her eyes. She embodies the quintessential older woman. The supporting cast is remarkable with performances by Martin Starr as the pool boy and Rhea Perlman, June Squibb, and Mary Kay Place as Carol’s golf and bridge buddies. Starr's subtleness pulls you into wanting to know more about him, but unfortunately, we never do. His role in Carol’s life is no less important, though. The women’s conversations are quite comical yet still maintain that aspect of reality. These women know each other well. Their personalities are all very different and lovely, finding a way to allow us to know Carol a little better through them. Sam Elliott could charm a cobra with that deep and sultry voice of his. His sincerity is easily spotted in this perfectly suited role.
At this point in the summer, movies seem to be a collection of horror flicks, kid films, reboots, prequels, and sequels. It’s quite refreshing to see a film about life and all it’s true ups and downs as we age. This lovely romantic dramedy is perfect for the over 40 age group. Don’t miss it while it’s in town.