Over the weekend I had the priviledge of seeing many films through the start of DIFF. One in particular kicked off the fest with a subtle bang. The film I’ll See You In My Dreams at face value isn’t a movie that is best judged by its cover. The title is somewhat dull; the cast is anything but conventional; and the plot description sounds like a film made for Lifetime. That said, this is anything but a movie that deserves to be thrown on the snore fest of Lifetime. I’ll See You In My Dreams is actually a pleasant surprise and is a fresh quirky look at a woman approaching her later years.

The film stars Blythe Danner as Carol Petersen, a woman who is living a lonely life in her 70’s after her dog abruptly passes away. After this event, Carol finds herself getting slowly involved in an awkward dating triangle between a pool boy named Lloyd (Martin Starr) and an old rich man named Bill (Sam Elliot). Now, this may sound depressing but between Danner’s amazing charm and the youthful writing of Brett Haley and his co-writer Marc Basch, the material is given a charm that most all ages can relate to. I mean at some point, we’re all going to approach that uncomfortable age where we begin losing loved ones, and contemplate our own existence, but what better way to enjoy it than to smoke pot with your elderly amigos, or go after someone way younger than yourself? Am I right?

That’s what makes a film like this different from most. It’s not told with a bitter or bleak viewpoint of getting old, and neither does it stray away from the harsh realities of coming to that age. Brett Haley finds a perfectly told balance of both and it’s handled magnificently by its cast.

Speaking of cast, one of the highlights for myself with I’ll See You In My Dreams is seeing Martin Starr (Knocked Up) take on a bigger role than his usual background plot characters. He really shows some solid range here and could have promise to show some dramatic chops in the future. Especially in dramedies. Blythe Danner– who most everyone will remember from the Meet the Parents films– shows how underused she is as an actress. She truly brings Carol to life and makes us feel empathy to her situation, as well as making us adore her as a performer. One thing Brett Haley mentioned after our screening is that he enjoys making films about women, even of the older generation, because no one else is making them, and they should be. I can’t agree more because this film shows exactly what Blythe Danner can accomplish if given the right material.

I’m not sure what kind of splash this film will make when eventually released but I’ll See You In My Dreams is bound to connect with those who are willing to look past the cover. Certainly there are stronger films in this category but Brett Haley is showing great promise with his second full length feature. I’ll See You In My Dreams is a coming of age story, only the age is 70, and for that unique spin it’s worth checking out. It’s a sweet movie and full of charm. Check it out when it hits in a few months.