“I’ll See You In my Dreams”


Seventy-something Carol Petersen (Blythe Danner) sets her alarm every morning for 6 a.m.  Not that she has anywhere particular to go; she just likes a routine.  Her husband died 20 years ago, and she’s slept alone ever since.  Well, other than her beloved dog, Hazel, who gladly joins her at the breakfast table for hot tea and “The New York Times.”

Carol loves house plants, and waters them regularly.  Her house, though not opulent, is nice and modern, and also neat and orderly.  Lunch is salad on the patio.  She shops for groceries, she plays bridge with three of her old girlfriends, who all live in the nearby retirement center, but Carol is convinced she isn’t ready for that, yet. (A minor quibble:  when the cameras show us the cards they’re holding, they’re obviously not sorted by suits, which no social bridge player would fail to do.)

Her friends do convince her, though, to participate in one of those “speed dating” socials, where you get five minutes at your table with each guy, but Carol found that experience vaguely depressing.  She’s actually more interested in talking to the pool guy, Lloyd (Martin Star), who’s young enough to be her son, but somehow there’s a little connection here.  They find themselves drinking wine on the patio and just chatting like old friends.  Carol couldn’t have explained even to herself what’s going on with that, but she’s not one for self-analysis, anyway.

But she does find herself mildly interested when she catches the eye of Bill (Sam Elliott), who actually is her age.  They go on a “real” date together, the first time she has done that since her husband died.  But she doesn’t want to spend a lot of energy analyzing that, either, even when he seems eager to pursue the relationship.  She goes with the natural flow, including finally ending up in bed together (the viewers are mercifully spared the disrobing, but it’s clear what they’ve been doing).  They enjoy visiting his sailboat, sometimes out in the bay, sometimes just in the harbor slip, having a quiet dinner together.

Carol has one daughter, Katherine (Malin Akerman), who lives in another State, but has called to make sure she can come visit for a couple of days.  Sure.  No problem.  But when Katherine persists in asking Carol why she’s different, and she finally confesses that she’s “seeing someone,” suddenly Katherine is all over this, and wants to know everything, and wants to meet him, but Carol possesses a natural reticence about such things.  She simply feels that her personal life is just that.

So it seems that after a couple of decades of not much new happening in her life, suddenly this retired schoolteacher finds herself needing to make decisions about new directions:  with Bill, for sure, and Lloyd, maybe, and even her girlfriends, who want her to go on a cruise with them (they’ve already embarked together on a naughty adventure in pot smoking).  And does she want to get another dog?

Not exactly earth-shaking stuff.  But Carol is the kind of retired person that many of us semi-retirees really identify with, so we’re right there with her.  Sorry, Millenials and post-millienialists, this one’s not for you.  But those of us “of a certain age” would love to see more quiet little films like this, about people who are older, yes, but not dead yet.  And maybe even ready to find out more about who we really are, and who we’d like to become.


Questions For Discussion:

1)      How important is routine in your life?

2)      How important should routine be in church worship services?

3)      Should seniors feel guilt about expressing their sexuality outside marriage?  Does age affect the morality?


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Supply Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Kaufman, Texas