So I take a trip to Key West and of course something on my list of things to do is see a film. At the unique theater within walking distance of our vacation rental (The Tropic Theater) I see an indie film with Blythe Danner and Sam Elliot titled, “I’ll See You In My Dreams.” I thought, “…this could be interesting.” Of course after a long day at the beach and lunch everyone wants a nap except for myself and my girlfriend’s mother. It’s always nice to have a movie buddy to discuss the film after but not always comfortable when a film puts someone (who happens to be your girlfriend’s mom) into tears throughout the film. I have to admit I felt a little like Ryan Reynolds in “Just Friends” during “The Notebook” scene.
But despite my somewhat awkward moments, if you happen to see “I’ll See You In My Dreams” you may find yourself emotionally captivated and it may be a film that you thoroughly enjoy.
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 4.5
It’s not often that we see a film with Blythe Danner anymore. When we do, she usually gives us a captivating and/or memorable performance. Couple that norm with an emotionally enriching story like “I’ll See You In My Dreams” and you’ve set the stage for Blythe Danner’s acting abilities to truly flourish.
I would describe this film as a coming of age story for someone who has already “come of age.” It’s a story of fulfillment through the emotional rejuvenation of a woman named Carol (Blythe Danner). While Carol is closed off living a reclusive lifestyle, people seem to be drawn to her. Through a diverse group of friends, a loving daughter, an intriguing love interest (Sam Elliot), and even her pool boy, Carol seems to have an appealing quality to attract others yet she fails to see that herself.
“I’ll See You In My Dreams” focuses on something that I feel is a staple in cinema…character development. As a character, Carol is honest in her convictions and her pessimistic outlook on life. In turn, her outlook is the basis for the progressive piecemeal development of a rich and dynamic character. Carol feels unfulfilled despite her life having been fulfilling by many people’s standards. In her quest for self-discovery and “the meaning of life” there are many supporting characters that help to further that quest. The film moves fluidly and flawlessly in the progression of the main character by utilizing these other characters to supplement Carol’s development. Each character is an integral part of the story because they serve as branches of Carol’s personality. This gives the audience a chance to see who Carol is by looking through other’s eyes rather than just her own.
Through her friendship with her young pool boy Lloyd (Martin Starr), we get to see the youthful spirit that exists within Carol. Lloyd is captivated by Carol’s accomplishments and experience while she clings to Lloyd for that reminiscent feeling of youth. Their relationship is one of the most engaging because, despite their age difference, they seem to find a connection to one another through complimenting aspects of their personalities and place in the world.
Carol’s relationship with Bill is a representation of hope and exploration. They meet in an instant but she is quickly wooed by his mysterious nature and his adventurous personality. He is unlike anyone she has met before and their onscreen courtship is a blissful series of moments that give both Carol and the audience hope that there is still time for her character to find happiness despite her age.
Her relationship with her friends is the most entertaining relationship in the film and probably the most intriguing as well. Each of her friends is uniquely independent of one another and could be conveyed as being a part of Carol’s personality as well. If this were a film about schizophrenia then the groundwork would have been laid perfectly with the camera angles and types of characters. While playing cards, Carol always sits at the head of the table in the center. Each friend has a trait that exists within Carol but is extremely concentrated through their own personalities. As the camera shifts during conversation the perspective is always angled when Carol’s friends are speaking but moves to a closer, central focus when she speaks. She is also the decision maker and moderator among the group which eludes to her being in control and how these friends could represent bits of her own personality.
From a cinematic perspective, “I’ll See You In My Dreams” was a brilliant exploration of character development through rich, dynamic characters. Blythe Danner was brilliant in her role and the supporting cast followed their duties well by supporting the main character rather than creating unnecessary subplots. On top of that I think that the cinematography should be credited for capturing the film’s emotion. Throughout the film, the framing and composition were excellent in conveying moments of isolation, despair, happiness, and even fear. The subtle placement of items was well thought out when reminding us of previous a scene or supplementing the tone of the current scene. “I’ll See You In My Dreams” is an excellent representation of what the indie genre has done for film.
Entertainment Value – 3
It takes a certain type of personality to enjoy a film such as this. With the main character being the focal point and everything else being supplemental, the connection with Blythe Danner’s character is essential. If you fail to establish that connection to her character then you could easily become bored. The film is slow paced if you’re not interested in discovering more about Carol.
On the other hand, if you do find yourself connected to Carol then I think you will be very entertained. The film is an emotional journey along the entire emotional spectrum. There are moments of tears, moments of joy, and a few moments of laughter as well. You will be taken on an emotional rollercoaster that will leave you feeling fulfilled by the end of the film and maybe even help you to gain some emotional perspective yourself.
Rewatchability – 2.5
Given the type of film this is and your connection to the character, being able to re-watch the film multiple times may prove to be difficult. Even if you were one of those that found a strong emotional connection to the main character, you’ve already discovered who she is and where her journey ends.
If you were connected to this film then I could see re-watching it with someone else to enjoy with company, but otherwise I’m not sure how often you’ll want to re-watch by yourself.
- Entertainment Value
"I'll See You In My Dreams" is a film that provides an enriching story of a unique central character played by Blythe Danner. The character's journey is supplemented by a fluid supporting cast and progressive emotional development conveyed through amazing performances and excellent cinematography. While the film is well established and beautifully made, much of the entertainment is based upon the audience's connection to the main character which is hit or miss for some.