Jane Fonda and Robert Reford unite after four decades in Netflix’s Our Souls At Night.
Jane Fonda and Robert Reford unite after four decades in Netflix’s Our Souls At Night.

Our Souls at Night movie review: It’s no Lunchbox, but Ritesh Batra’s new film will charm your socks off

Our Souls at Night movie review: Ritesh Batra’s new film is wistful, it’s warm, and it’s the rare chance to witness two monumental stars - Robert Redford and Jane Fonda - perform together.
By Rohan Naahar | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 29, 2017 03:12 PM IST

Our Souls at Night
Director - Ritesh Batra
Cast - Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Matthias Schoenaerts
Rating - 4/5

It is possibly too early in his career to say, but there aren’t many filmmakers who display in their films the empathy Ritesh Batra does in his. And this empathy, this acute understanding of human behaviour, warts and all, could probably explain how Batra – an Indian – has set each of his three films in three different continents, yet never lost sight of the truth. The Lunchbox, his first feature, was a quintessential story of middle class India, while his second, The Sense of an Ending, hopped between two time periods in England. For this one, his third, Batra travels to America, and tells a tale as sleepy as the suburban town in which it’s set.

Our Souls at Night shares a lot in common with The Lunchbox – they’re both unlikely love stories, between two characters trying to grab a second chance at life, punctuated by moody silences and bursts of charm – but it has even more in common with the works of its writers. Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber are – if Aaron Sorkin were removed from the equation – two of my favourite screenwriters working today. But they’ve made their careers chronicling the love stories of awkward millennials – and not, as this film would suggest, those of lonely septuagenarians.

Which is why even though it features two very fine older actors – legends Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, still at the peak of their powers, reuniting as a screen couple after almost four decades – it is reminiscent of Neustadter and Weber’s previous movies - films like 500 Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now and The Fault in Our Stars. And there lies its brilliance.

It begins in medias res – which is a fancy drama term for when a scene begins in the middle of action. It’s a writerly flourish, and nothing more, but like its cousin, the opening scene of The Social Network, it sucks you into the world of these characters, and leaves you with the feeling that the movie is always one step ahead of you.

The opening titles are barely over when…

Addie Moore comes knocking. She’s the girl next door – has been for decades. And one evening, perhaps after having spent years weighing the pros and cons of what she is contemplating doing, she rustles up some courage and arrives at Louis’ door. Now, Louis appears to be a creature of habit, and a man of few words – although it’s unclear if he has always been like this, or if years of loneliness have sucked his soul dry.

Either way, Addie’s positively scandalous proposition – that the two of them keep each other company at night, because it is always at night, old age has taught Addie, that she is most alone – utterly stumps Louis. So he blurts out the first concern that pops into his head: What will people say?

But he’s hardly in a position to turn her down. He is, as we learn a couple of scenes later, a slave to routine; he barely tolerates his friends, regrets – among other things – never having pursued the passions of his youth, and lives in a house clearly too large for one person – a subtle nod to his departed wife. So feeling slightly sheepish, he takes Addie up on her offer.

And together in bed, they bare their souls to each other, night after night after night. They’ve made mistakes – terrible mistakes, the both of them. But they’ve spent far too long beating themselves up about it. Life’s punished them hard enough. They just want to go out in peace.

And this is where Batra’s empathy as a filmmaker shines. He doesn’t judge Addie and Louis. And nor does his camera, which observes its subjects with the unassuming stillness of a psychiatrist. Often, several characters – sometimes even as many as five – populate the same frame. It’s a sign of tremendous confidence in the story (and the audience) when a director doesn’t feel the need to rely on suggestive camera movements, or ham-fisted editing.

The story does the heavy lifting.

When Addie’s grandson is dropped off at her doorstep by her son – played by the always sizzling Matthias Schoenaerts – it could easily have been seen as a lazy plot contrivance in a worse film. But here, it nudges the plot – which, in all fairness, could feel a tad too uneventful for impatient viewers (it’s not your fault, it’s just how we’re fed these days) – down exciting new avenues.

Our Souls at Night thrives in the minutiae of life – in the making of beds before their nightly meetings, the stirring of pots for a meal they’ve looked forward to all day, and the packing of bags for the first camping trip in years. There’s always the lingering feeling that the most important moments of Addie and Louis’ lives have already happened. This is merely a postscript.

It’s the perfect film for a lazy summer evening, or a rainy winter day – whatever floats your boat. Our Souls at Night is wistful, it’s warm, and it’s the rare chance to witness two monumental stars perform together.

Watch the trailer for Our Souls at Night here

Follow @htshowbiz for more
The author tweets @RohanNaahar

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Parineeti Chopra stars in the recently-released Netflix film The Girl on the Train.
Parineeti Chopra stars in the recently-released Netflix film The Girl on the Train.

Parineeti says she has ‘never been on a date’, reveals her first kiss was at 18

PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:33 PM IST
  • Parineeti Chopra reminisced about many of her firsts in a new video for Netflix India. Watch it here.
Close
Bipasha Basu has shared new pictures and videos from the Maldives.
Bipasha Basu has shared new pictures and videos from the Maldives.

Bipasha is true 'poser' as she soaks up the sun in a swimsuit on Maldives vacay

UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:33 PM IST
  • Bipasha Basu and her husband, Karan Singh Grover, have been keeping their fans updated with their adventures in the Maldives. See their pictures here.
Close
Henry Cavill played Superman in three movies.
Henry Cavill played Superman in three movies.

New Superman movie for Warner Bros. to be written by Ta-Nehisi Coates

ANI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:18 PM IST
Ta-Nehisi Coates, an acclaimed essayist, has been hired to write the script for the feature reboot of Superman, which will be produced by J.J. Abrams.
Close
Eeb Allay Ooo! is set in the heart of Delhi.
Eeb Allay Ooo! is set in the heart of Delhi.

Eeb Allay Ooo maker Prateek Vats: We could bring desh ki baat through characters

PTI
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:07 PM IST
Eeb Allay Ooo! maker Prateek Vats talks about his critically acclaimed film which released on Netflix recently. The film is a satire set in New Delhi.
Close
Milind Soman and Ankita Konwar tied the knot in 2018.
Milind Soman and Ankita Konwar tied the knot in 2018.

Milind Soman cuddles up with Ankita on 7th anniversary of their relationship

PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 05:39 PM IST
  • Milind Soman and his wife, Ankita Konwar, took to Instagram on Saturday to celebrate seven years of their relationship. See the pictures here.
Close
Mira Rajput has shared a couple of pictures from her trip to Amalfi with Shahid Kapoor, soon after they got married.
Mira Rajput has shared a couple of pictures from her trip to Amalfi with Shahid Kapoor, soon after they got married.

Mira Rajput misses her trip to Amalfi when 'little bella' Misha was in her tummy

UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 05:41 PM IST
Mira Rajput is missing her beautiful trip to Amalfi Coast with husband Shahid Kapoor in 2015. She added that she was pregnant with Misha when they took the trip.
Close
Priyanka Chopra won the Miss World crown in 2000.
Priyanka Chopra won the Miss World crown in 2000.

Priyanka Chopra reminisces about winning Miss India, advises new contestants

PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 05:15 PM IST
  • Actor Priyanka Chopra on Saturday passed on her best wishes to the current Miss India contestants, and reminisced about winning the crown two decades ago.
Close
Charu celebrates her birthday with husband and close friends.(Instagram)
Charu celebrates her birthday with husband and close friends.(Instagram)

Charu Asopa celebrates birthday with husband Rajeev Sen, watch video

PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 05:11 PM IST
  • Charu Asopa celebrated her birthday with husband Rajeev Sen. Check out pictures and video from the bash.
Close
Ranvir Shorey has fractured his leg.
Ranvir Shorey has fractured his leg.

Ranvir answers if he fractured leg while 'dancing’ after testing Covid-negative

PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:46 PM IST
  • Ranvir Shorey was asked by a fan if his leg fracture was caused by too much happy dancing after recovering from Covid-19. See his reply here.
Close
Sonam Kapoor and her mother-in-law Priya Ahuja share a sweet bond.
Sonam Kapoor and her mother-in-law Priya Ahuja share a sweet bond.

Sonam Kapoor introduces fans to mum-in-law, they say she looks beautiful

PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:46 PM IST
Sonam Kapoor took to Instagram to share a bunch of pictures with her mother-in-law, Priya Ahuja. See them here.
Close
Shilpa Shetty shared new pictures from Maldives.
Shilpa Shetty shared new pictures from Maldives.

Shilpa Shetty is every bit a diva as she poses by the blue sea in Maldives

PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:43 PM IST
  • Shilpa Shetty, who is currently vacationing in Maldives, shared another stunning picture of herself. See it here.
Close
Actors Sara Ali Khan and Taapsee Pannu share that one pre-Covid ritual they can’t follow now.
Actors Sara Ali Khan and Taapsee Pannu share that one pre-Covid ritual they can’t follow now.

Covid effect on pre-shoot rituals for actors? Sara Ali Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Anil Kapoor spill the beans

By Rishabh Suri
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:34 PM IST
Actors such as Taapsee Pannu, Sara Ali Khan and Aparshakti Khurana tell us their one pre-Covid ritual which has been impacted in the current scenario.
Close
Embracing fatherhood, Mohit Malik feels nervous and excited
Embracing fatherhood, Mohit Malik feels nervous and excited

Mohit Malik: ‘Don’t like people telling me bachche ho gaye, lag gayi tumhari’

By Sanchita Kalra
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:26 PM IST
Actor Mohit Malik shares how he is gearing up to welcome his baby, with wife Addite Shirwaikar Malik
Close
Gal Gadot has shared an 'unboxing' video of Priyanka Chopra's book.
Gal Gadot has shared an 'unboxing' video of Priyanka Chopra's book.

Gal Gadot gets her hands on Priyanka's Unfinished, shares 'unboxing' video

PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:20 PM IST
Priyanka Chopra sent a copy of her book Unfinished to Gal Gadot and the latter took to Instagram to share an 'unboxing' video.
Close
Rahul Vaidya proposed to Disha Parmar on Bigg Boss 14.
Rahul Vaidya proposed to Disha Parmar on Bigg Boss 14.

'I wear my boyfriend's clothes', says Bigg Boss runner-up Rahul Vaidya's fiancee

PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:02 PM IST
  • Bigg Boss runner-up Rahul Vaidya's fiancee Disha Parmar has shared a video of herself wearing one of his sweatshirts. "I wear my boyfriend's clothes," she wrote in her post.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP