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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

I’ll See You in My Dreams

by director/co-writer Brett Haley and co-writer Marc Basch

I'll See You in My Dreams is a movie about seniors and aging, but it's not an “old person” movie; it's a drama, comedy and a romance whose main characters happen to be old.

After experiencing an unexpected loss, 70-year-old widow Carol reengages with the world and people around her in new ways. When we started writing the film, honesty and authenticity were our ultimate goal; story was secondary to character. Instead of depicting wacky or larger-than-life situations that need to be overcome, the film focuses on real situations and relationships that ring true. And our goal was to end up with an emotional and a truthful story—and a surprisingly funny one.

As real as the characters felt to us in the writing, we knew we were going to need a top-notch cast and incredible performances for the film to really work. In the end, we got our first choices for every role, which came as a happy shock to us and showed an unheard-of level of trust and faith in a script written by two relative unknowns.

The person who carries this film on her shoulders is Blythe Danner. She is a true leading lady, even though she hasn't gotten many opportunities to be one onscreen. On Broadway, she's a star, and we wanted to give her that opportunity in this film. Through her performance, Carol's story is brought distinctly to life: every relationship she has in the movie feels real and true, and because of that, the audience feels a bit like they have lived her life. This is a credit not just to Blythe's performance, but to all the performances in the film. From the first (and only) table read we knew we had the makings of something special—sparks between Blythe and her “men,” played by Martin Starr and Sam Elliott; the relationship with her distant daughter (Malin Akerman); and the chemistry of real friendship among the girls, played by June Squibb, Rhea Perlman and Mary Kay Place. And we think we know why—it's because these are roles the actors had never had a chance to play before, and were dying to. The result is onscreen, and it's something we think is rarely seen in films about people of this age.