I’ll See You in My Dreams

Posted on May 21, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language
Profanity: Strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, marijuana
Violence/ Scariness: Some mild peril, sad death
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: May 22, 2015
Copyright 2015 Bleeker Street
Copyright 2015 Bleeker Street

Blythe Danner gives a performance of exquisite sensitivity in “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” the story of a lonely widow. She plays Carol, a singer-turned teacher who retired 20 years ago after her husband died. Her friends in a nearby retirement community urge her to join them but she prefers to stay in her home, her primary companions her dog and her glass of white wine.

The movie begins by taking us through a day we surmise is just like hundreds of others. She plays cards with friends, she plays golf, she feeds the dog, she sips wine and watches television. She keeps busy and she is not unhappy. She has plans, and she has fun, but she does not have much of a sense of purpose. When a rat invades her home, it is unsettling. She asks her new pool cleaner for help.

His name is Lloyd (Martin Starr), and he is lost in a way that makes her feel able to talk to him.  Her feelings toward him are not maternal or romantic. But he is smart, and funny and self-deprecating and he was willing to help her with the rat.  And he is newly back in town and living with his parents, so he can use a friend, too.  When he tells her about going to do karaoke, she agrees to go with him.

A speed dating event with her friends is a hilarious disaster, but that may make an overture from a handsome stranger named Bill (Sam Elliott) seem more appealing.  Writer/director Brett Haley has a good sense for the way people who have no time for trivialities get to the point with each other, wasting little time on getting-to-know-you trivialities.  Carol’s conversations with Lloyd and Bill are direct without being intrusive, and especially without being judgmental.  When she is with her friends, there are easy exchanges that reflect the kind of connection based on the shared experience of being an older woman.  A scene where they all get high on one friend’s medical marijuana is completely charming.

It is almost beyond belief that this is Danner’s first romantic lead in a film.  She is breathtaking.  Haley wisely just leaves the camera on her beautiful face as she sits with her beloved dog while he slowly stops breathing in the vet’s office.  Her grief is devastating.  Her devotion is deeply moving.  Her performance of “Cry Me a River” in karaoke is also magnificent.  The incandescence she brings to the story of a woman who is still struggling for connection makes this one of the most touching performances of the year.

Parents should know that this movie has strong language, drinking and drugs, sexual references and situations, and a sad death.

Family discussion: What do we learn about Carol from the karaoke scenes? Why did she become friends with Lloyd? How is dating different for older people than for younger people?

If you like this, try: “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and its sequel

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