Cherish the magic of ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’

Blythe Danner

Blythe Danner


Any chance to see Blythe Danner on screen can be magical.

And, after watching this special actress team with John Lithgow in “The Tomorrow Man,” check out another special film about senior citizens trying to make the most out of their lives.

While you won’t see wide-screen explosions or computer-generated effects in “I’ll See You In My Dreams” — an independent film made with a small budget in 2015 — this touching story about the choices people make as they age is generous, tender and wonderfully entertaining.

The lovely Danner is perfectly cast as Carol, a widow who is content with her dog, her golf, her friends and her daily glass (or two) of wine. But she hasn’t challenged herself in years, in her routine or her relationships. Though she sets an alarm for 6 a.m. each morning, she awakens to the same routine day after day. So when she faces a few surprising situations, from a rodent in the house to new men in her life, she wonders if she still has what it takes to make the most of the unexpected. Or if she’s so defined by her routine that she has lost the ability to be spontaneous. As she works her way through unexpected entanglements she begins to realize that, especially at later ages, people must take control over their lives to fully experience the joys of their lives.

A story this delicate could get gooey in the wrong hands. But writer/director Brett Haley, with writer Marc Basch, brings an endearing matter-of-fact quality to the highs and lows his characters experience to make the incidents feel authentic. Even when Carol begins to get to know a much-younger pool man — or responds to the interest expressed by someone closer to her age — Haley and Basch refuse to overplay the obvious complications. Instead they take unexpected turns with these relationships as they wisely focus on Carol. Rather than try to tell the story from all points of view, they use the supporting characters to enhance the woman’s reluctance to examine her life. And they make us believe in what the future can bring even when trust the wind and take a chance or two.

For Danner, the film offers a role of a later lifetime, as she brings her extensive theater and movie experience to create a compelling woman who refuses to acknowledge how interesting she can be. What makes Carol so interesting is how ordinary she considers her life. And, because Danner so beautifully portrays the routine that rules Carol’s life, we discover the opportunities she may not see. Plus she delivers us a splendid interpretation of “Cry Me a River” when Carol visits a karaoke bar. The actress and her character receive solid support from veteran actresses Mary Kay Place, June Squibb and Rhea Pearlman as well as the always-reliable Sam Elliott as a man who believes in living for the moment at any age.

“I’ll See You In My Dreams” looks at the realities and challenges of growing older. And because Carol lives a life that many could consider ordinary, she reminds us how extraordinary life can be, even when we age. Especially when played by the marvelous Blythe Danner.

“I’ll See You In My Dreams” is rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language. The film runs 92 minutes. It is streaming online.