Saturday 1 April 2017

Movie Review: And So It Goes (2014)

A lightweight romantic comedy set among the grandparent generation, And So It Goes has courage to explore love and sex late in life but little else.

Oren Little (Michael Douglas) is a highly successful real estate agent, looking to retire after one last big sale, but still grieving the death of his wife. As a widower, he has given himself licence to be fully self-absorbed and uninterested in the happiness of others. His neighbours, including the widow Leah (Diane Keaton), generally avoid him or are forced to tolerate him since he owns the building. Leah is a small-venue lounge singer who often breaks down and cries during her performances when she remembers her husband.

Oren's life is turned upside down when his son, a former drug addict on his way to a stint in prison, deposits his ten year old daughter Sarah (Sterling Jerins) with an incredulous Oren. Leah steps in and welcomes Sarah at her place. Gradually young Sarah becomes a catalyst for a relationship to evolve between Oren and Leah.

Directed by Rob Reiner, And So It Goes shifts the typical demographic of romantic comedies by about 35 years, and naturally injects a large dose of age-created cynicism and emotional baggage into the character of Oren Little. But with films like Hope Springs, Something's Gotta Give, It's Complicated and As Good As It Gets having thoroughly ploughed this field relatively recently, Reiner and screenwriter Mark Andrus have little new to offer.

The film's predictability is almost stunning. The interventions of a cute kid and a frequently defecating dog are almost labelled as the antidote to Oren's caustic attitude, and the overall vanilla flavour is emphasized by Oren's son being the most pleasant prison-bound ex-junkie imaginable. The film even skips over the typical tug-of-heart triangle, with Oren having no competition except himself in his quest to win Leah's attention. Reiner himself shows up as a piano player who may have some feelings towards Leah, but this thread is never pursued.

And So It Goes is left with two veteran actors demonstrating why they were best-in-class. Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton go about their business with class and efficiency, hitting all right notes at all the right moments and marginally elevating the film's stature. A few sharp lines of dialogue also help, and Oren's poor handling of the first sexual encounter with Leah is a clever reminder that boys may act like boys at any age. But overall, Reiner is decades away from his trend-setting golden era that started in the mid 1980s, and the film is all about nonthreatening rounded edges.

And So It Goes is about a chance for late love, but it's also a tired latecomer to well-wrinkled themes.

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