Time Magazine recently published its list of their best 2015 movies. There was one I hadn’t heard of at all. Released in May, it starred Blythe Danner and Sam Elliott. How had I missed this?
We meet Carol, watching TV at bedtime with her dog Hazel on the bed. Hazel’s not doing well at all, and soon we see that Carol has to put him down. (Yes, him.) Oh, is this movie going to be a downer?
We then see Carol with her bridge-playing friends (an inspired acting group consisting of Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place, and June Squibb, covering the 60s, 70s, and 80s). Director and co-writer Brett Haley said there was not enough attention given to older actors, these were anything but little old ladies, and he was fortunate that everyone he dreamed up for casting said yes.
Carol’s friends want her to get out there – after all, her husband died twenty years ago – but she likes things the way they are. They drag her to speed dating, which is disastrous for her but hilarious for the audience. Carol happens to see a man looking her way, a man who complimented her in a store recently, who’s far more interesting than the pathetic speed daters. Why not, he’s Sam Elliott!
At 72, Blythe Danner is absolutely gorgeous (her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow will never be as beautiful as her mother), and Sam Elliott remains that silver-haired, mustachioed, wickedly smiling rascal who has never stopped winning us over.
The first words she hears from him are “I want to have lunch with you. What’s your name?” That’s a new one. His name is Bill. So was her husband’s.
But another strange thing is happening in Carol’s ordinary life. She has a new pool man, Lloyd (Martin Starr). He discovers her sleeping out on the patio because she discovered a rat in the house. He looks everywhere as a favor to her, then hangs out for a while drinking wine and talking about her past singing career. An unlikely duo, they hit a karaoke bar a few nights later, when she brings down the house with “Cry Me A River.” Lloyd looks awestruck. He sings too. Badly.
More changes are occurring to Carol, as if in small helpings. Her daughter is visiting and trying to be close to her. A tragedy occurs. There’s just a lot to handle.
“I’ll See You In My Dreams” opened at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Bleecker Street in May in a limited release. (Why?) Oh, that’s how I missed it.