Stories about romance for older adults is becoming pretty standard these days as the population ages. This particular entry is a little different and refreshingly honest in some ways. Blythe Danner gives us a woman who is coming to terms with her life and what she wants, and doesn’t want, after the loss of her close companion of the past 15 years. It is a lovely performance, full of subtlety and undertones and enough raw humor to keep it all going forward. She is not your typical late middle-aged woman… or perhaps, really, she is but is rarely portrayed on screen.
Danner has a nice supporting cast to help her along. Martin Starr (Veronica Mars) and Sam Elliot (Draft Day) play primary roles in her experience nicely. The dichotomy of the two men is handled well by director and co-writer Haley in this, his first feature-length movie.
Haley is less sure with some of the smaller roles in Danner’s clique, who work, but to varying degrees of believability. Mary Kay Place, Rhea Perlman (The Sessions), and June Squibb (Nebraska) fill in the bridge circle of her life. The group interaction is great fun, but Squibb, in particular, feels forced. Malin Ackerman (The Final Girls), as her daughter, provides a brief foil to the events. She underplays the relationship well and never tries to steal focus. I can almost believe she really was the daughter of Danner’s Carol, but despite the nice performance, it didn’t quite work for me. That may have just been the script for her as well. The problem is that she really doesn’t serve a purpose, other than as a moment of support and to humanize Danner a little in a mainstream way. There was no reflected plot or emotional revelations by having her come around that was obvious to me.
Weaknesses aside, the overall effect of the movie is bit like voyeurism of Danner’s life. We follow along with her, rooting for her and cringing on occasion; she is an imperfect heroine. The story is far from straight-forward, and that is part of its charm and Danner delivers it up very nicely indeed.