Before I can even begin to write about the movie I’ll See You In My Dreams, which The Wife and I saw on a Tuesday night at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, I have to talk about the MAKING of this film.
It was a Kickstarter project, in which Brett Haley, a 2005 University of North Carolina graduate, was able to promise Blythe Danner and Martin Starr to be in his film. Haley managed to raise $61,365, or 102% of the $60,000 goal. All 127 people who have put in $100 more, were listed in the end credits.
In recent years, Blythe Danner is probably best known for plugging Prolia, an osteoporosis drug for a condition she is said to have had. Too bad: in the Northeast US, she’s known as a fine stage actress, on Broadway, and especially on the stage of the Williamstown (MA) Theater Festival, where my spouse had seen her perform more than once.
The first time I ever saw Blythe Danner was on Adam’s Rib, a 1973 “TV adaptation of the Tracy/Hepburn classic” film, where she played opposite Ken Howard. Howard, incidentally, would go on to play the coach in the high school basketball series The White Shadow; the executive producer of that show, and of the hospital drama St. Elsewhere, was Bruce Paltrow, Blythe’s husband until he died in 2002. They had two children, Gwyneth and Jake.
I mention all of this because I’d be fascinated to find out how Haley got Danner, a woman now in her early 70s, and a widow for about a dozen years, to play Carol, a woman in her 70s, and a widow for a few decades.
The critics really liked the movie I’ll See You In My Dreams (94% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), more than the public (72% positive), and I think I know why. It’s rather well-acted, particularly by Sam Elliot as the charming Bill, and Rhea Perlman from Cheers, Mary Kay Place from Fernwood 2night and June Squibb from the movie Nebraska as Carol’s friends. But the script, by Haley and Marc Basch, is perhaps too subtle. too low-key.
Somehow, I think the story might have fared better as a play. The movie, as good as it was, had a low-budget feel. Other than a scene on a boat, a few golf scenes, and a walk home from the supermarket at night (which easily could have been replicated), it might have been better on stage.
The story had some interesting twists, including conversations between Carol and the directionless pool man Lloyd (Starr), who interestingly seemed to be somewhat in the same boat. I never felt quite as invested as the narrative suggested I feel, about the tricky nature of aging.
At 92 minutes, I was glad to spend the time seeing pros at work but was left wanting more…something. On the other hand, I always cared about Carol’s specific journey, and on that basis, I mildly recommend the film.