Based on three stories by Nobel Prize-winner Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jan Schutte's film offers a sympathetic portrayal of a subject most often played for smirks and snickers: Late-life love and lust.
Manhattan-based Max Kohn (Otto Tausig) is an acclaimed writer: Not as acclaimed as some, as he's reminded in a dozen small but piercing ways, but sufficiently respected to receive numerous lecture invitations that offer the chance to escape the watchful eye of longtime lover, Reisel (Rhea Perlman). Kohn is 80 years old, the veteran of three marriages and plagued by the usual infirmities to which aging flesh is heir, but his erotic imagination remains undimmed. He continues to write about romance and sex, and never passes up an opportunity to flirt, though his follow through isn't what it once was. Still, Riesel keeps him on a short leash and imagines the worst when he's away. On one trip, he imagines a series of encounters: Max meets vivacious, self confident widow Rachel (Caroline Aaron) at a luxury Florida hotel, but their plans to spend the day together are derailed and he winds up with a damaged maid (Elizabeth Pena); their tryst is cut short by guilt (his) and bitterness (hers). Another widow, Ethel (Tovuh Feldshuh) buys an apartment in his building and invites him to lunch, only to come undone at the thought of her late husband, the love of her life. Max has nightmares about bantering with faculty wives, driving their jealous husbands seek revenge, and being interrogated about his sex life by a forward train conductor, and spends one real, bittersweet night with former student Rosalie (Barbara Hershey), who's disillusioned beyond her years.
German-born writer-director Schutte combined Singer's "The Briefcase, "Alone" and "Old Love" into this flawed but compassionate portrait of a man nearing the end of his life and unwilling to give up the thing that got him through its darkest hours. Much of Singer's delicately rueful tone is lost in translation, and Max's misadventures often verge on schtick. But Schutte never panders to the stereotype of the dirty old man or the comically lusty old lady. Max and his amors, real and imaginary, approach love in all its forms with the hard-won knowledge that it can soften life's cruelest blows or deliver them.
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- Released: 2007
- Rating: PG
- Review: Based on three stories by Nobel Prize-winner Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jan Schutte's film offers a sympathetic portrayal of a subject most often played for smirks and snickers: Late-life love and lust. Manhattan-based Max Kohn (Otto Tausig) is an acclaime… (more)