“Our Souls at Night” premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 1 to a rousing reception, with critics praising this fourth film pairing of Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. In this skillful adaptation of Kent Haruf‘s 2015 bestselling romance, they play neighbors who are both widowed and alone until Fonda’s character suggests they turn to each other for companionship.
Netflix plans to release the film in theaters and online at the end of September to get a jump on awards season. This intimate film, deftly directed by the award-winning Ritesh Batra, will play especially well on screeners. While critics praised both performances, they were particularly impressed with Fonda, a two-time Oscar winner (“Klute,” 1971; “Coming Home,” 1978), who does much of the heavy lifting. Her character must deal with the memory of the death of her daughter while caring for her grandson (Iain Armitage) for the summer.
That latter plot point makes this film reminiscent of “On Golden Pond,” which Fonda produced back in 1981 as a vehicle for her father Henry Fonda, who finally won an Oscar for his work as an aging academic looking to make amends with his family. She co-starred as his defiant daughter and earned her only Supporting Actress Oscar nomination; she lost that race to Maureen Stapleton (“Reds”).
Fonda turns 80 in December and were this seven-time nominee to win at the Oscars next March, she’d be a few months shy of Jessica Tandy, who was nearly 81 when she prevailed in 1990 for “Driving Miss Daisy.” While she wouldn’t set the record, she would bump Katharine Hepburn down to third on the list of Best Actress winners sorted by age; she was 74 when she claimed her record fourth Academy Award for “On Golden Pond.”
Fonda is currently in contention at the Emmys for Best Comedy Actress for her role on the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie” opposite Lily Tomlin. While she missed out on Emmy nominations for the first two seasons of the series, third time proved to be the charm. She won an Emmy on her first nomination back in 1984 for her passion project “The Dollmaker” and contended twice for her recurring role on “The Newsroom” (2013, 2014) as well as for producing the 1994 informational series “A Century of Women.”
Below, a sampling of the reviews for Fonda in “Our Souls at Night.” After reading these excerpts, be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.
Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter): “Wearing long, two-tone gray hair and a small town wardrobe, Fonda is still trim and undeniably sexy, even while fixing breakfast in a pink housecoat. She brings a strong Western boldness to the daring Addie and a clear-headed, self-possessed wisdom that makes it clear why Louis is so interested in being with her.”
Guy Lodge (Variety): “Fonda and Redford play this potentially sleepy material with spry, generous adroitness, genuinely listening and subtly playing off each other’s reactions and body language. This is hardly the most testing work of their careers, and perhaps neither beautiful icon precisely exudes the true, worn-and-torn spirit of a life lived alone, even when accompanied, in the great suburban middle. But even when ‘Our Souls’ doesn’t require them to dig especially deep, their enjoyment of each other’s onscreen company is warmly palpable, and thus infectious: We share their pleasure in hanging out together, and duly miss them when they miss each other.”
Alonso Duralde (The Wrap): “There’s a great, extended shot of Addie and Louis, a panoply of emotions crossing both their faces as they wordlessly drive home the morning after they’ve had sex for the first time. And there’s something irresistible about the way that a smitten Louis tells Addie, ‘I just want to live out my day, then come tell you about it at night.’”