An Excellent Drama With A Terrible Name
The cornball title suggests some kind of filmography of a composer and the movie itself skirts cliche plot elements, but, in fact, I'll See You In My Dreams is an A-One realistic drama, excellently written and beautifully acted, one of the best grownup movies in quite some time.
Blythe Danner plays a woman whose husband died 20 years ago and whose 14-year-old dog dies, but she isn't desolate or even conspicuously lonely. She hangs around with Rhea Perlman and Mary Kay Place and June Squibb (of Nebraska fame), and that seems to be enough for her.
But when she strikes up an acquaintance with pool cleaner Martin Starr, who is a good 30 years younger than she is, you suspect a May-December affair with tragedy. And when she meets Sam Elliott as an apparently ideal man her own age, you expect a romantic comedy. And writer-director Brett Haley has in mind very much more than either of those.
I'm not going to tell you what Haley does have in mind, because there is a range of interpretations about that, but don't expect I'll See You In My Dreams to turn into standard Hollywood stuff, because these characters are people, not mere roles in a movie, and they have their heads on straight.
Mary Kay Place is a pretty common romantic, and Rhea Perlman is more adventurous, and June Squibb is satisfied with things as they are but is open to suggestion. And a lot of solutions are suggested for Danner's problem, if indeed she has a problem. The characters are colorful and likeable and believable, not the commonest combination in Hollywood movies, and the story is full of surprises but not melodramatic or heart-tugging. If it isn't particularly exciting, it is entirely satisfying and, for once, optimistic-- within reasonable limits.
A motto on one of its posters is, "Life goes on. Go with it." That would be a lot better title for I'll See You In My Dreams.