Saturday 13 February 2021

Movie Review: Somewhere In Time (1980)

A romantic drama and fantasy, Somewhere In Time aims for old fashioned passion but bungles both the pacing and the central romance.

In 1972, budding playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) has a surreal encounter with an old woman, who thrusts a pocket watch into his hands and whispers "come back to me".

In 1980, Collier checks into the Grand Hotel to try and overcome a case of writer's block. He is mesmerized by a displayed photo of theatrical actress Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), who was a rising star of the stage in the early 1900s. He visits Elise's former housekeeper Laura Roberts (Teresa Wright), and learns Elise's career was managed by the Svengali-like William Robinson (Christopher Plummer), and she performed at the Grand for one night in 1912.

Hopelessly in love with a picture, Collier uses a hypnosis technique and transports himself back to 1912 and the day of the performance. Despite Robinson's interference, he meets Elise and they fall in love, but sustaining a romance across time will prove a challenge.

Richard Matheson adapts his own book Bid Time Return into a screenplay, but unfortunately, and in the hands of director Jeannot Szwarc, Somewhere In Time is both languid and lacking. 

With a hackneyed time-travel-through-hypnosis premise providing a rickety foundation, the only hope for salvation resides in igniting the flame of romance between the attractive couple of Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. But somehow Szwarc contrives to keep them apart for more than an hour, the groundwork to transport Richard from the present to the past and then into the arms of Elise ballooning into a laborious odyssey with numerous irrelevant side quests.

And once the lovers are near each other, Christopher Plummer's blocking becomes the most prominent theme, again robbing the movie of any momentum. Which may be all to camouflage Matheson's inability to transform Elise from a mythical image into a real person. Jane Seymour is barely provided the opportunity to say any meaningful lines, her mere visage supposed to suffice as an object of entrancement.

The period settings and costumes are charming, the Grand Hotel exudes vintage class, and Reeve brings a welcome vulnerability mixed with nothing-to-lose determination. But with Rachmaninoff's 18th variation of Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini endlessly occupying the soundtrack, Somewhere In Time is a dull loop.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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