'Our Souls at Night'
Director: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Jane Fonda, Iain Armitage, Robert Redford
Still waters run deep and Ritesh Batra's films symptomize that adage quite fruitfully. In his latest unusual romance, he has Fonda and Redford star as Addie Moore and Louis Waters, a widow and widower who've lived next to each other for years with their respective families and now seem out of sorts after the death of their respective spouses and the moving away of their children. Addie is not given to wallowing in self-pity and gives in to the urge of setting up a connection with the geriatric widower.
It's the casting more than the story or treatment that is monumental here. The reuniting of screen legends Robert Redford and Jane Fonda for the first time in decades, is definitely something to look forward to as well as cheer about. Despite age and infirmities wrecking their nostalgic halo, they strike the right amount of sparks and look comfortable playing geriatric singles who might have just found love together. They've co-starred in 3 movies before; The Chase (1966), Barefoot in the Park (1967), and The Electric Horseman (1979); and this is their first in 38 years.
Kent Haruf, wrote the novel upon which this film is based, at age 71, while serving a death sentence. He finished the book a few months before he died of lung cancer and the book was released posthumously. The movie opens in an idyllic Colorado town where Lou has just microwaved mac and cheese for dinner. Then Addie, knocks on his door unexpectedly and propositions him to spend the night together. No, it's not for sex but companionship. The weight of their solitary loneliness has led them to this point. There's not much plot here so what happens is basically up to the two greats in the frame.
Batra manages to get us invested in their lives without much preamble. What you see is what you feel and both Fonda and Redford manage a sublime chemistry that tugs at our heart-strings while managing to make us smile at the rare bits of humour that life throws their way. This is by no means a great movie but the presence of two greats in the same frame playing out an onscreen chemistry that has lasted over 60 years is something you can't afford to miss.
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