Movies I Need To See Before I Die: SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980)


(This is a column where I review movies that I have never seen, but SHOULD have.  Being a film Geek, I have seen a ton of films.  But life is also very short, and for one reason or another, there are quite a few flicks that I have never got to.  Sure, it probably doesn’t matter if I ever see a movie like PARENTAL GUIDANCE, but a movie like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA…. well, I should have seen that already.  I’m a film geek for God’s sake!  I have now decided that I should get on that before I get too old.  I have compiled a list of films that I WANT or NEED to watch, and am going to start watching them when I have spare time.  So I will randomly be posting reviews of movies that I have always wanted or needed to see.  Enjoy!)

Back when I worked at Suncoast Pictures in the mid-90’s, I remember that one of the most popular movies that was purchased among middle-aged women was SOMEWHERE IN TIME.  And every time I told them that I hadn’t seen it, they got on my case.  “What?!?  You haven’t seen it!  It’s the best romance film of all time!”  So yes, this movie does have a pretty big following.  I remember seeing the poster in the theater when it first came out, and in video stores too.  I just never got around to seeing it.  And as the years go on, and the buzz for this film has grown, I have become more interested in seeing it.  Now, I can finally say “I’ve seen it!”

This is one of those really syrupy romances.  But, there’s a fantasy twist going for it.  Christopher Reeve plays a playwright named Richard.  On the night of his first play, he his approached by an old woman who gives him an antique watch as she says, “Come back to me…..”.  At the time, he doesn’t realize the significance, but years later, when he’s struggling with a new play, he travels to the historic Grand Hotel.  Once there, he sees a portrait of a young woman.  The picture was taken in 1913 (I think, could’ve been 1912).  Anyway, he is immediately drawn to this picture.  He finds out that the woman was an actress named Elise (Jane Seymour), and he begins researching all about her.  He starts to fall in love with this woman from the past.  Now, the fantastical element.  He reads up on time travel through hypnosis, which he attempts.  He succeeds, traveling back to Elise’s time.  Once he finally meets her, he is determined to spend the rest of his life with her, but it’s not that simple, as he soon finds out.

I think this is a wonderful premise for a romance.  I’m a pretty romantic person, and I love the idea of mixing that genre with fantasy.  The movie starts off very strong.  Right away, there is an entrancing and haunting tone presented in the film.  The score is sweeping, the camera movement is slow and sensual as characters gaze at each other.  It definitely has the feel of a classic romance.  Sure, the premise is outrageous, but that’s part of its charm.  Who wouldn’t want something like this to happen to them?  I can definitely see the appeal this movie has with romantics.   The first half does a great job establishing Richard’s obsession.

Once he goes back in time, there is some mild humor as he tries to figure out how to dress and speak.  But it’s not broad at all.  It’s pretty subtle and mostly works.  However, this is when I began to have a problem with the movie.  For the first half, the audience is waiting for these 2 characters to meet, and when they do, they don’t have a whole lot to say to each other.  I definitely believe the physical attraction, and their first kiss is effectively sensual.  But on their first date, instead of seeing how these 2 interact and converse with each other, we just get montages of them staring at one another.  Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by movies like BEFORE SUNSET, but it would’ve been nice to see them talk to each other.  I mean, they do talk to each other, but only if it’s to advance the plot.  There’s also an iffy subplot involving Christopher Plummer as Elise’s manager.  Is he psychic?  Has he time traveled before?  It’s kind of confusing.  The ending is pretty good, but by the end I felt like that these 2 people didn’t know each other as well as they thought that they did.  I know it’s supposed to be love at first sight, but I had a tough time buying it.

The acting is decent all around.  It’s too bad Christopher Reeve wasn’t in more movies, cause I genuinely like him.  And he’s good here.  He gets to do some lighthearted comedy, but also has to do some dramatic stuff too and does an admirable job.  Jane Seymour is sexy in a classy way.  Plummer is intense, but again, I wish his character was more clear.  The direction has a very lush look to it, which serves the story well.  There are some very elegant shots to gaze at, which made the movie easy to sit through.  But again, the script is where I had an issue.  Not the story!  I love the idea!  But the lack of words between the two romantic leads left something to be desired.  John Barry’s emotional score IS quite good however, as it captures the perfect romantic vibe.

I understand why this movie has a respectable cult following.  I get the appeal.  I only wish the movie would have followed through with its promising premise all the way.  I didn’t dislike it, but was a little letdown.  Considering its reputation, I was hoping for something great, but instead…. it was ALMOST good.                 ★★½ (out of ★★★★)

– Rated PG for a “shit” or two.   Also some mild sensuality and thematic elements.  Probably should still be PG.

– Running time: 1hr 43min.

(Streaming on Netflix)


Categories: Austin Kennedy, Movies I Need To See Before I Die, Reviews

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