I'll See You In My Dreams

Directed By: Brett Haley

Starring: Blythe Danner, Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, Malin Akerman, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, and Mary Kay Place

I'm one who frequently espouses the notion that we go to the movies and get exposed to different worlds, different cultures, and different ways of thinking.  While I certainly still cling to this belief, I'd also argue that we go to the movies to escape from the reality of our own lives.  We catch a flick after a long day at work.  We grab some popcorn and a drink to get away from the kids.  We go there for dates where talking isn't a priority.  It's clear that the goal is to find simple entertainment to distract us from the world around us.  That being said, it's taken me some time to write about Brett Haley's I'll See You in My Dreams.  Simply put, the indie comedy-drama just isn't a good distraction.

Carol Petersen (Blythe Danner) is an older woman living on her own.  Widowed and retired for more than twenty years, she frequently visits a senior community where she plays cards with her friends Georgina, Sally, and Rona (June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, and Mary Kay Place).  Seeing Carol off on her own, they frequently encourage her to come live in the community and to find a man.  Carol often rebuffs their offers, but things change on one fateful day when she must say goodbye to her closest friend.  Things change when she must put down her ailing dog.

A lonely and now fully isolated Carol begins to make new friends starting with the new pool cleaner at her house Lloyd (Martin Starr).  They initially strike up a conversation over a black rat that's found its way into her home.  Karaoke and appletinis soon follow.  Carol also meets a man by the name of Bill (Sam Elliott) one day at the grocery store.  Determined to get her out on a date, he pulls out all the charms and succeeds.  With two men now in her life, Carol certainly isn't lonely anymore, and it's starting to show.  Even her daughter Katherine (Malin Akerman) takes notice of her more energetic mother when she comes into town to visit.

I'm a big fan of Blythe Danner.  She continues to bring a certain grace and charisma to the big screen that's unmistakable whenever she decides to jump on camera.  For her part as Carol Petersen, she delivers a solid performance as this lonely old woman relegated to a life of routine who comes bursting back to life when she has someone special in her life.  She has solid chemistry with the rugged charismatic Sam Elliott in his performance as Bill as well as with Martin Starr's less charismatic pool boy Lloyd.  She has a great supporting cast comprised of June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, and Mary Kay Place.  Despite Danner and the solid cast with which she's working, I'll See You in My Dreams just doesn't get it done for me.

Beyond the solid performances from the cast, I'll See You in My Dreams is a fairly straightforward production for a comedy-drama.  There‚Äôs nothing terribly wrong or terribly noteworthy.  Where Brett Haley's film fails for me isn't the acting or the production.  It's the writing.  During its runtime of 92 minutes, the indie film doesn't seem to have anything to really say or convey to moviegoers.  The narrative seems a bit aimless.  Yes, a lonely woman finds a little love and realizes that our time here on earth is too precious not to be lived.  At the same time, however, the film starts and ends with her love and life revolving around dogs, not men.  The catalyst for the film is the death of her dog.  The conclusion of the film (SPOILER ALERT) is her adopting a new dog.  She's not getting back out there into the world by getting a new dog.  She's hunkering down.  In my book, this is tantamount to Carol coming full circle in her loneliness, which seems to be a pointless story to me.

I'll See You in My Dreams is a so-so comedy drama.  The narrative undermines what could have been a really good film.  As it stands, Haley's film doesn't exactly help us escape from our reality to some happier place for 92 short minutes.  Instead, it offers us a sad old lady who doesn't really get her groove back in the long term.  You'll need a few appletinis with this one.  I'll See You in My Dreams gets a 0.09% rating.