“A Dream Come True”
By Scott Mantz
“I’ll See You in My Dreams”
Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott
Directed by Brett Haley
Forget about big-budget spectacles like “Tomorrowland,” “San Andreas,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” or even the box office behemoth known as “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
If you really want to see something truly unique and special at the movies this month – or, for that matter, all summer long – then feast your eyes on “I’ll See You In My Dreams.” Shot on a shoestring budget in just 18 days, this delightful, touching, poignant and very funny independent gem is packed with more genuine emotion than you’ll likely find in any other movie over the next few months.
But what really makes “I’ll See You in My Dreams” a rare sight to behold is the prospect of seeing 72-year-old Tony and Emmy-winner Blythe Danner command the big-screen with her first truly lead performance. She is quite literally in every single scene, and she shines from start to finish. It’s the kind of star turn that Oscar-worthy performances are made of, and that alone makes this wonderful crowd-pleaser a dream come true.
Danner plays Carol, a longtime widow who is set in her ways. She has her friends, her hobbies and her dog. She’s comfortable on her own, and she has no interest in rocking the boat. That changes when she meets a charming retiree named Bill (Sam Elliott), whose pursuit of her forces her to reconsider the prospect of starting over again at this stage of her life. Making the situation a bit more complicated is the unexpected emotional connection she has with Lloyd (Martin Starr), her much younger pool-boy with a heart of gold. Will she throw caution to the wind and take another shot at love, or will she play it safe and stay firmly wrapped in her comfort zone?
Though “I’ll See You in My Dreams” is clearly aimed at grown-ups, the sweet and profound screenplay – written by Brett Haley with Marc Basch – is bound to resonate with moviegoers of all ages. It doesn’t matter if you’re 27 or 72, this is one deeply heartfelt and honest cinematic experience, and it never hits a false note with button-pushing manipulation.
In addition to Danner’s terrific performance, Sam Elliott is equally superb in a rare turn as a romantic leading man. Their irresistible chemistry is off the hook, as is Danner’s emotional connection with Martin Starr. Being torn between two completely different men creates an awkward situation for Danner’s character that’s unlike any that she has ever faced before, but in both cases, the levels of intimacy are genuine and effective, regardless of age.
When “I’ll See You in My Dreams” had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, it got an extended standing ovation, especially for Blythe Danner’s revelatory lead performance. No film could have been more deserving, as it is quite simply the stuff that cinematic dreams are made of.