Sunday, September 28, 2014

Somewhere in Time (1980)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

When I found Somewhere in Time, I was actually looking for time-travel movies. At first, it sounded like a straight-up time-travel movie. The more I read about it, the more I realized that it had more of a romance theme. I was still interested, though.

The story is about a playwright named Richard Collier, who’s destined to be a great writer. At the opening of his first play, an elderly woman approaches him, hands him a watch and tells him to return to her. Everyone (including Collier) wants to know who this woman is. Eight years pass; Collier has broken up with his girlfriend and is having trouble writing.

He decides to take a vacation, so he just gets in his car and drives. He almost passes a hotel, but decides to stop and check in. While visiting a display in one of the hotel’s rooms, Collier finds the picture of a woman. The picture is from 1912, but Collier becomes enamored with the woman. When he asks, he finds out that she was an actress named Elise McKenna.

Further research reveals that she’s the woman that handed him the watch 8 years ago. As you’ve probably figured out by now, that’s where the time travel comes in. Collier is determined to find a way to go back to 1912 to meet McKenna. It takes some work, but he does succeed. Where it goes from there, I won’t tell you.

I think part of the reason that the movie works is the simplicity of the story. It doesn’t rely on any sort of complicated machinery or temporal abnormalities. It’s not really asking you to buy into anything heavy. The main theme of the movie is the relationship between Collier and McKenna. Collier doesn’t try to explain that he came from the future, but is aware of the fact that it would sound strange to McKenna.

There were very few jokes related to time travel. The only one that stands out is when Collier first checks into the hotel in the present time. Arthur, a long-time employee of the hotel, senses something familiar about Collier. You know this is setting up a meeting in the past. Collier also gets to witness the taking of the picture that he originally saw in the hotel.

It took a while for Collier to find a way back into the past, but that’s understandable. You really can’t set up a movie like this in a few minutes. There are a lot of little things that help make the movie. One shot shows many of the awards that Collier received. One is for a play called “Passionate Apathy”. To simply rush back into the past wouldn’t have been a good idea.

It’s hard for me to explain exactly how or why this movie works, but it does. I actually found out that this movie has a fan club, so I know I’m not alone in this. (If you’re wondering about the club, there was a feature on the DVD that I rented that went into some detail about that.) I’d definitely recommend watching this movie. 

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