Romantic tradition returns: ‘Somewhere’ exudes emotion
Somewhere in Time is a throwback to the romantic tradition of the ’40s. It is a mutant in the evolution of women’s films, which have progressed to a style typified by Jill Clayburgh.
Technically superior, if overly sentimental, Somewhere in Time will appeal to the feminine strain in those women who have been confronted mercilessly by the Clayburghian figure, i.e., one of independence and confusion.
Movie review: Somewhere in Time
The story begins with playwright Richard Collier (Christoper Reeve) celebrating a successful opening night of his first production From a gathering of well-wishers emerges an elderly woman who presses into his palm a gold pocket watch and whispers, “Come back to me.”
It is eight years later, while vacationing at the Grand Hotel, that Collier is able to investigate this mystery. There he becomes obsessed/enchanted by a photograph (circa 1912) of a beautiful actress, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour). It is she who has given him the watch.
With a determination that seems at times surprising even to Collier, he travels backward in time to meet her, and in meeting her he falls into a love that goes beyond the temporal. It is their affair and the bittersweet resolution to their plight that forms the basis of the film.
Somewhere in Time exudes emotion. It is laden with gazes and yearning. It is romance of the old school, incorporating the best features of the genre. The atmosphere changes visually from a sharply defined present to a past that has been smudged around the edges, softened by a more delicate costume, a more refined manner, a more gracious photography.
Even Christopher Plummer as W.F. Robinson portrays the villain with the utmost courtesy. The allusions to an “odd” relationship between Miss McKenna and Robinson, who acts as her manager, congeal into little more than actress/mentor with a touch of ruthlessness.
Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour make it easy to empathize with the couple. Reeve has done well to shed the Superman costume before the release of sequels that may set his image. Seymour is graceful and feminine, as the period requires. Costumes are stunning.
The first glimpse of Elise McKenna is of an elegant woman in her mid-80s. Dressed in a black gown of a period gone by, she appears regal. Susan French, as the actress who portrays the aged Miss McKenna, is most effective. Though making a brief appearance, it is she who sets the mood for the remainder of the film. It is for her that we sorrow. The sacrifice of her career, 60 years of waiting for an impossible return — these make us mourn and envy the love that would sustain such action.
I would suspect that Somewhere in Time will not appeal to those inclined towards action flicks, or those who equate love with sexuality.