217. Our Souls At Night


The only reason “Our Souls At Night” was even made was because of its two stars, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. Take them out of the picture and you have a hum drum movie that isn’t even worthy of a 3 a.m. slot on the Hallmark channel. It’s supposed profoundness and insights into romance and old age rests solely on Redford and Fonda’s likability, that because they are stars, whatever they’re working in must be good.

Well, it isn’t. “Our Souls At Night” is fair, a two-star movie that you’d want to pay no more than two bucks to see. Redford stars as Louis Waters, a man in old age living on his own, his family off in other parts of the country. He’s approached by Jane Fonda’s character Addie Moore, his neighbor and another older individual who’s family is far away, leaving her alone. At the beginning of the film, Fonda approaches Moore and more or less asks him out. He says let me think about it and ultimately agrees. It’s good this happened right from the get go, because 30 minutes of Redford and Fonda raking leaves outside, hoping that the other might say something.

Thankfully, when they do, it isn’t too much. Louis and Addie don’t go into deep ruminations about the nature of aging or the frailty of life, they just have simple, pleasant coffee talk. They’re old enough to know that nothing being said is often more enjoyable than talking about nothing. The real drama escalates when Addie’s son Gene shows up (played by Matthias Schoenaerts), where he drops off his 7-year-old son Jamie (Iain Armitage) to live with her for a while. Louis plays surrogate dad/grandfather to Jamie, and it turns into an interesting, unconventional family dynamic.

This disarmament of the nuclear family still isn’t quite interesting enough to maintain our interest. The fact that the characters have damaged pasts doesn’t add enough dramatic depth either. The film doesn’t become boring enough to the point where it’s unenjoyable, but just coasts by, a model train stuck in a short, unfulfilling dramatic loop.

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