Somewhere in Time (PG)
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This came out in 1980, and I must have seen it on TV sometime in the 80s. (I may have thought it was a TV movie, at the time.) I've always vaguely remembered a very dramatic moment from near the end of the movie, which I'd rather not spoil. But anyway, I finally watched the movie on DVD in 2013, and nothing except that one bit was familiar to me at all. Um... it's supposed to be a romantic movie, but I really don't feel like putting my review in that category, because I don't find it all that romantic. I mean... it's one of those "love at first sight" kind of stories, and that's not a concept I really believe in... though I'm often capable of suspending my disbelief, for the sake of story. But the movie doesn't do anything that gives me any idea why the lead characters fall in love. I guess we're meant to believe they're soulmates, but while I do believe in that concept (sort of), in this case I find it highly unlikely. Because the characters lived in different times. Which is a concept that has great potential, I just don't feel the story lives up to that potential. Because, as I said, it gives me no idea why they love each other. And "soulmates" is a concept that must have some pretty solid reasoning behind it. It's not some random thing, you know? But whatevs, it's still a reasonably good movie. I guess.
It begins in 1972, with a playwright named Richard Collier (played by Christopher Reeve) celebrating with some friends after what I guess was the first performance of his first play, in college. An old woman comes up to him and puts a pocket watch in his hand, and says "Come back to me." Then she leaves. The story then flashes forward eight years, and Richard is having trouble writing his latest play, I guess. So he just decides, apparently on a whim, to take a trip. He checks into a hotel near where he'd gone to college. He meets an old bellhop named Arthur, who'd been there since 1910 (when he was five years old, and his father was a desk clerk at the hotel). Also, there's a room with some displays from the hotel's history, including a photograph hanging on the wall, of a beautiful young woman. The name plate that should be under the picture is missing, so Richard saks Arthur about it, and he tells him the photograph is of an actress named Elise McKenna (played by Jane Seymour). Her theater company had performed a play there in 1912.
For no readily apparent reason, Richard becomes obsessed with Elise. He goes to a local library to learn more about her, and later goes to the home of a woman who had written a book about her. She tells him Elise died eight years ago, and shows him some of Elise's things. One of which is a book that had been written by his old philosophy professor, apparently about time travel. So he goes to visit the professor, who talks about the possibility of hypnotizing oneself into traveling in time, providing there are no objects around from the present to remind the time traveler of the present. The professor did his best to make it clear that he wasn't really sure this was possible, but... Richard was desperate, so he tried it. (I did mention he was obsessed with Elise, and really, I think obsession is easily mistaken for love, if you happen to be deranged. Richard doesn't seem deranged, per se, but um... I do think he takes stalking to a whole new level. That's one problem I have with this movie... he really is a stalker, but it gets played off as just romantic, not at all creepy.)
Anyway, he obtains some old clothes from roughly the era he wants to go back to. And gets some coins from the era. Then goes back to his hotel room, puts all modern things in the closet, tries to think himself into the past, and fails. But then he makes a discovery that I don't want to spoil... which inspires him to try again. (And this time he does it without using a tape recorder, a rather glaring oversight I can't believe it took him that long to realize.) And, uh, he wakes up in 1912. Of course, there was another couple staying in the room, back then, which led to an amusing scene of him trying to sneak out before they see him. And then he wanders all around the hotel, asking people where Miss McKenna is. (He also meets young Arthur.) Eventually he finds Elise, but she's being protected by her manager, William Robinson (Christopher Plummer), who doesn't want to let anyone get near his star. In spite of Robinson's efforts, Elise takes a cautious interest in Richard. (I kind of suspected Robinson might also be a time traveler, but that didn't turn out to be the case.)
And... I don't want to say any more about the plot. But I will say I'm not completely incapable of seeing romance in it. And there's definitely some humor. And it's an interesting story, and well-acted. The music was rather too syrupy for my taste. And the ending... well, it's not exactly your typical romantic movie ending. Yeah, that's all I'll say.