Magic, to be effective, only happens on occasion. In this particular case, it’s only the fourth time, but whenever Robert Redford and Jane Fonda star in a film together, something magical does happen. It’s an on-screen chemistry that began with 1966’s The Chase and continues with the new Netflix movie, Our Souls at Night.
Based on the best-selling novel written by Kent Haruf, Our Souls at Night is set in Colorado and begins when Addie Moore (Jane) pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters (Robert). Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they’d been neighbors for decades but had little contact. Their children live far away and they are all alone in their big houses. She seeks to establish a connection and make the most of the rest of the time they have.
While recently talking to London’s Express, Robert elaborated, “One day she knocks on his door and says, ‘I know this is going to sound weird, but would you like to come and sleep with me and just talk? Come and lie with me at night, just for comfort, so I can have someone to talk to in the dark.’ My character says, ‘Let me think about it. Can I get back to you?’ But that is what happens. They cuddle together, they lie together and they talk. I think a lot of people will understand that story.”
That actually sounds like heaven to Jane, who, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, admitted that when she and Robert shot 1967’s Barefoot in the Park (currently celebrating its 50th Anniversary), she fell in love with him. “I had a mad crush,” she noted. “I couldn’t wait for those cuddling scenes in bed. The only bad thing about Robert is that he doesn’t like to do love scenes, so the fact that he didn’t look forward to those always made me sad. I thought maybe we could have gotten it on.”
Our Souls at Night, again, is the fourth movie for Robert and Jane, and what follows is a quick look at their previous films.
The Chase (1966)
Okay, this one sounds — and when you watch the trailer, definitely looks — like an old primetime soap, and not necessarily one of the better ones. Describes Google, “When ‘Bubber’ Reeves (Robert Redford) escapes from prison, it upsets the folks in the nearby town of Tarl, Texas. Sheriff Calder (Marlon Brando) wants to capture Reeves alive, which puts him in opposition to many of the townspeople who have resorted to mob justice. Businessman Val Rogers (E.G. Marshall) wants Calder to apprehend Reeves quickly, through any means, since he fears the criminal will come after Val’s son, Jake, who is sleeping with Reeves’ wife (Jane Fonda).”
Barefoot in the Park (1967)
Playwright Neil Simon saw this one hit Broadway in 1963, and it was on screen only four years later. Unlike The Chase, this one gave us the chance to really see the Jane/Robert chemistry in action. Google details, “Newlyweds Corie (Jane Fonda), a free spirit, and Paul Bratter (Robert Redford), an uptight lawyer, share a sixth-floor apartment in Greenwich Village. Soon after their marriage, Corie tries to find a companion for mother, Ethel (Mildred Natwick), who is now alone, and sets up Ethel with neighbor Victor (Charles Boyer). Inappropriate behavior on a double date causes conflict, and the young couple considers divorce.” We don’t think we’re really spoiling anything 50 years later when we say that they come out of the situation okay. Simon had been nicknamed King of the One-Liner, and between this one and 1968’s The Odd Couple, it’s easy to see why.
The Electric Horseman (1979)
On the surface this one seems a bit goofy in its premise, but it becomes endearing and actually about something. Great reunion for Robert and Jane after a 12 year hiatus. Says Google, “A former champion rodeo rider (Robert Redford) is reduced to using his saddle skills to promote a breakfast cereal in a gaudy Las Vegas show. When he’s asked to perform with a $12 million horse that he discovers is being doped to remain docile, he flees into the desert astride the beast in an act of defiance. A story-hungry female reporter (Jane Fonda) gives chase.”
Our Souls at Night, representing a 38-year gap between the duo’s films, will make its Netflix debut on Friday, Sept. 29.