As a middle-aged woman, I rarely have a conversation with other middle-aged women in which the subject of movies "for us" fails to come up. They just want something to go to see in the theater, something that tells a story about the things real people in middle age or older (and not just women) go through. I'm relieved to have a film to recommend to them, one that's never glib or cute and that captures some believable textures of everyday life: In I'll See You in My Dreams, Blythe Danner plays Carol, a seventysomething retired teacher, widowed for twenty years, who feels vaguely lonely but isn't sure she's interested in dating. Urged on by her friends (the audacious triumvirate of Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place, and June Squibb), she tries speed-dating, with ridiculous results. Practically out of nowhere, the most radiant of silver foxes appears in the form of Sam Elliott.
I'll See You in My Dreams is only partly a movie about romance and dating post-70, and perhaps more a picture about friendships that blur the line between the platonic and the amorous. It's crucial to note, too, that this isn't just a nice little movie for older people: There's some real bite to the way it deals with the life questions that come with aging, and it's anchored by a quietly resplendent performance from Danner, who brings a featherduster touch to everything she does.
Seeing Danner and Elliott together like this makes you wonder why we can't have more movies like I'll See You in My Dreams, where great-looking, charismatic performers we've been conditioned to think of as character actors get to play romantic leads.