It may seem strange to hear a life-long commentator on film say this, but the fact is that many movie reviewers are odd ducks, indeed. Sometimes, they eat with their mouths OPEN. Sometimes, they NEVER clean their rooms. Sometimes, they use all those movie passes to jazz up their social lives. If you enjoy reading or listening to them, great, but don't let complete strangers intimidate you into making a judgment about a movie before you get a chance to form your own. Case in point: "Somewhere In Time" starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer.
Since this Technicolour fantasy was released by Universal fifteen years ago, I doubt that I've read a single positive review of Richard Matheson's adaptation of his well-regarded novel directed by Jeannot Szwarc. On the other hand, the folks who pay to rent it on video watch it compulsively and consider it one of their very favourite movies. Every few years, I check it out again, wondering if I was in a cloud when I saw it in 1980 and 1985 and 1990 & every time I'm swept right back into Matheson's fanciful blend of time travel and romance.
So what is it about this film that attracts both scorn and affection from its audiences? Take a look at the year it was made: harsh realism drew the highest marks from critics of that time: the dysfunctional families in "Ordinary People" and "Coal Miner's Daughter". And Raging Bull" and "Elephant Man" were so visually disturbing that they were shot entirely in black-and white. Then there was "Somewhere in Time" a soft-focus romance that could easily have been made in another era. No lavish special effects. No implausible encounters with President Taft or King George V. Just a basic fairy tale love story between a playwright and an actress who were born sixty years apart.
Imagine the same critics who groaned at its sheer simplicity running out for popcorn during the movie love scenes they saw at kiddie matinees. Christopher Reeve's youthful awkwardness, Jane Seymour's reined-in vulnerability & Christopher Plummer's uptight tenacity were right for the story but wrong, apparently, for 1980. You have to believe in wanting someone as much as these characters do in order for "Somewhere In Time" to work. Leave the cynicism for the films, like "Disclosure", that deserve it and give "Somewhere In Time" another chance.
Copyright 1996 Monica Sullivan
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