Our Souls At Night

Starring: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Iain Armitage, Matthius Schoenaerts, Judy Greer, Bruce Dern, Phyllis Somerville
Directed By: Ritesh Batra

Plot: Addie (Fonda) wants to sleep with Louis (Redford).

What Works: This film never really has any “great” moments. It hovers a few times in the “good” area, with most of the movie spent in “mediocre/average”, and a little in the “bad” zone. It’s a mostly harmless film that will either satisfy Redford/Fonda fans or disappoint them, depending on what they’re looking for. If they just want to see these two together again, building a romance, then sure. You might like this. The two have great chemistry, and it’s clear that they admire each other off camera. If you’re hoping for some deep soul searching romance, well… you might be disappointed. I can’t say Redford or Fonda did great work, because I’ve seen them both in better roles. I can say certainly that Armitage was much better in Big Little Lies, Schoenaerts has been better in several things, and that Greer and Dern are mostly wasted. Still, none of the acting is bad. It’s all just OK. There are some really pretty moments, and the chemistry between Redford and Fonda is good enough. This is like a harmless tablecloth. There’s nothing wrong about it, and you wonder why you’re talking about a tablecloth.

What Doesn’t Work: Oh of course this is the same director of Sense Of An Ending, which released earlier this year, and was problematically directed but expertly acted. This guy seems to attract the best actors, but he can’t direct his way out of a paper bag. The film literally opens with the proposal to sleep together, and it sets off the way this film plays out, in such abrupt cause/effect fashion. It seems overly heavy handed and rushed at times, and one scene leads directly to another. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there aren’t many little moments in the film. Batra never lets his characters or actors just breathe and have character development. It seems as though for most of the movie, he’s hitting checkpoints. It feels very clunkily directed. I also really didn’t like the score. It was very throw away for me. In the end, this felt like an abandoned film, one that no one tried to save, and 10 years ago would have mysteriously gone straight-to-video. I’m quite baffled this film has a positive Rotten Tomatoes score. Critics are being unusually nice to a rather middle-of-the-road film.

Final Word: Meh. Look, I wanted this to be good too. I love Fonda and Redford as much as the 65+ crowd does. But, it’s just kinda disappointing. I know you wanted to see Fonda and Redford together again, but this really isn’t what you wanted.

Final Grade: C

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