Entertainment

‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’ is golden storytelling

What It’s About

Defying description by having more layers than a senior chick flick usually has, “I’ll See You in My Dreams” surprises in many ways. Emotionally honest and richly satisfying, this uncommon comedy-drama delivers poignancy and humor in generous doses.

Yet, it’s not cloying, pandering or implausible. It reaches beyond golden girls and silver foxes to appeal to other generations with its quirky, genial tone.

A luminous Blythe Danner is Carol Petersen, a widow whose comfortable life has become routine. A couple shocks nudge her out of her comfort zone. She then meets a charismatic guy Bill (Sam Elliott, who literally made all women of a certain age swoon at the screening), and strikes up a friendship with her pool guy Lloyd (a most delightful Martin Starr).

Opening herself up is part of the plesant journey here. And telling her closest — and envious — gal pals all about the twinkly-eyed hunk she’s stepping out with induces many laughs and sparks fun conversations during weekly bridge games.

With a script both salty and sweet by director Brett Hanley and co-written by Marc Basch, this candid look at relationships during the golden years is not predictable and keeps us guessing which way it’s headed.

Performances

While the exciting Elliott (“Roadhouse”) gets most of the attention, a less confident Martin Starr (a Judd Apatow regular, starting with “Freaks and Geeks”) is reassuring and enjoyable.

The four women are fabulous as longtime friends — and I’d give Rhea Perlman (“Cheers”), Mary Kay Place (“Sweet Home Alabama”), June Squibb (“Nebraska”) and Danner their own sitcom as lively septuagenerians.

Emmy winner Danner (“Meet the Parents”) is a classy actress whose pitch-perfect turn as a widow facing struggles and new forks in the road allows her to bloom in new ways. It’s welcome, refreshing and exciting. She’s been good in standard Mom roles for years, but this part allows her to be more than a parent.

What Works

Laugh-out-loud funny and very relatable, “I’ll See You in My Dreams” reinforces that you can “Live, Love and Laugh” all your days, no matter how old you are.

The clever and heart-tugging script doesn’t shy away from tough questions or decisions, and rings very true about the ups and downs of life.

What Doesn’t Work

The pacing could be swifter, but this is a minor frustration in a film that hits all the right notes in a warm, genuine story about second chances and new chapters.

We shouldn’t marginalize older actresses, and this showcases how sharp and entertaining they can be.

3 1/2 stars out of 4

Director: Brett Haley

Starring: Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, Martin Starr, Mary Kay Place, Rhea Perlman, June Squibb, Malin Akerman

Rated: PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language

Length: 1:32

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