Two of the highest-flying stars 1960s, 70s and 80s, film legends Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, reteam for the low key “Our Souls at Night.” On screen they’ve played lovers in “The Chase,” “The Electric Horseman” and most famously in 1967’s “Barefoot in the Park.” That movie portrayed the first blushes of young love. In the new film, Fonda says, “we play old people love and old people sex.”
The screen legends play Louis and Addie. Long time neighbours, both are widowers, living alone in homes that once brimmed with life and love. Lonely and alone, Addie goes next door with a proposal to a man she barely knows. “Would you be interested in coming to my house and sleeping with me?” she asks. “It’s not about sex, it’s about getting through the night.”
Their sleepovers begin innocently enough, just the sharing of some company and a mattress. As they get to know one another their life histories are laid bare. Louis cheated on his wife, an extramarital affair that left a deep scar on his relationship with his daughter (Judy Greer). Addie’s life is complicated by the sudden appearance of her son Gene (Matthias Schoenaerts) who is in no shape to look after his son, seven-year-old Jamie (Iain Armitage). While Gene figures things out Jamie moves in, completing the second-time-around family.
“Our Souls at Night” is a low-key movie about two people leading quiet lives. Louis and Addie are people you know, your grandparents, neighbours or elderly friends. Perhaps better looking grandparents, neighbours and elderly friends than we’re used to, but this Redford and Fonda we’re talking about here. They are people just looking to make a connection, to spend their remaining days in the company of someone they love. “I just want to live out my day,” says Louis, “and then come home and tell you all about it at night.” It’s touching stuff, made more effective by the presence of the leads, actors we have literally grown up watching. They feel familiar, although a little more thread bare than we’ve seen before. Redford shuffles when he walks, Fonda is delicate but as their relationship blooms the colour returns to their cheeks and the chemistry we first saw fifty years ago kick in. Their spark and naturalistic performances even help gloss over some of the more melodramatic elements of “Our Souls at Night’s” story.