By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
Okay, let’s Real Talk. A lot of you out there hate Barbara Streisand, and judging from your Meet the Parentses and The Guilt Tripseses, I can understand where you’re coming from. But have you seen Funny Face? Her A Star is Born? How can you not watch those and smile?
Okay, besides you, the Grinch.
Young Babs was a national treasure, and I’ll punch your mother right in the youmakers if you suggest any different. The Way We Were was written specifically for her talents (yes, she also sings the title song which is… okay). So, yeah, she’s a progressively-minded, very outspoken, quick-witted Jewish girl, and her romantic foil is played by Robert Redford, so yes, he’s a Waspy golden boy with hidden artistic depths. The film follows their relationship from 1930s university idealism to the dark days of McCarthy-period Hollywood.
Man, Robert Redford was pretty.
Like a Greek God. Dan, he must have aged well. Bet he doesn’t look a day over 40 even now.
Seriously, though, he does a great job with a somewhat underwritten role, at first embodying a man to whom “everything comes easy”, then only to grow into someone who can’t, or won’t, deal with anything that doesn’t.
This is the Streisand Show first and foremost, though, and as always she’s radiant, witty, and heart-breaking all in one package. She’s not unwilling to compromise her ideals so much as she’s unable to do so, but as abrasive as that sometimes makes her, she cares deeply about others. However, her idealism also extends to those she loves, and Redford finds her both the most supportive and the most demanding mate he could ask for. Two guesses on how this all turns out.
The biggest asset this film has, though, is the leads’ chemistry together, which is as explosive as a real-life Walter White’s. The “will they or won’t they” phase of the film is played perfectly, as you can’t help but fall in love yourself with these characters, and the more the film withholds, the more you root for them to get together. Modern romantic films should be taking notes.
Or you can just slap two pretty cardboard cutouts against each other for 100 minutes
When the romance is over, the movie sputters to a halt. The film establishes the cracks in their relationship well, but develops a tell don’t show problem all of the sudden and bogs down in talky scene after talky scene. It just drones on and on until eventually you don’t give a shit anymore.
Part of the problem is the setting, which switches to Waspistan (1950s Hollywood), which just keeps on being all whitebread and sweater-vesty even while genuinely interesting things like the persecution of Tinseltown by the House Un-American Activities Committee go on primarily in the background. Why can’t we watch thaaaat?!
You can’t unsee Babs’s sex face.
Half a great romance, half a dramatic slog, but if you’re a Streisand fan, a must.
Take a Drink: for fucking sweater capes, the whitest look there is
Oh God, the whiteness is blinding me!
Take a Drink: for every commie joke or just plain bad one
Take a Drink: every time Babs gets sassy
Take a Drink: every time Redford’s writing is referenced
Do a Shot: every time you spot communist iconography in Babs’s apartment
Do a Sh-sh-shot: you’ll know