Lovely,Still is a romantic drama starring Ellen Burstyn (remember the stunning performance in the very depressing and yet wonderful movie, Requiem for a Dream) and Martin Landau. Let me begin with this sign Spoiler Alert. Because I might reveal a few things about this movie, even without explaining it in detail 🙂
There is this old guy, Robert Malone, living alone in a house and going about on his work. He is a very old guy, taking care of himself and he wraps up a present for himself for the upcoming Christmas. One day he forgets to lock his house on the way to the work and panics when he comes back and finds it open and to his surprise there is a beautiful old lady inside his house, Mary, who is residing in the opposite house with her daughter. She wanted to make sure that everything is alright because the door was open. Since Robert panics he is harsh to her and then he relaxes and they exchange pleasantries. What starts there is a causal friendship, which goes to a date (where the poor Robert takes the help of his young boss Mike to get tips for his date) and starts to feel something in his life. A renewed energy to live and not to just exist.
They go out together, even attend one of the Christmas parties where Mary takes him as her date. There Robert is surprised that one little girl calls him by his name and when he asks her who she was, she cries and runs away. He also mistakes the exchange between Mary and another person, whom he mistakes for her ex-husband and scolds him for breaking her heart. She clears the air and he is suddenly aware of his strong feelings for her. He is also plagued by very strange nightmares and dreams which causes him to panic. They spend the Christmas together and exchange gifts. Mary is shocked to find that he had presented himself a pistol to take his own life, because he was tired of living alone. But then later confesses that after meeting Mary, he feels like she was there with him his entire life and it feels like he is breathing again.
The next day, when he almost proposes to her in her sleep, things go awry and he is very confused because he feels that Mary left him and then suddenly she is in the house. That is when he realizes who Mary, her daughter and his boss Mike really are and he gets sick and is admitted for treatment. Mary doesn’t want to give up hope, even though the doctors say that they couldn’t do much anymore. The movie ends where she says the same words which Robert once had told her, that she will love him forever.
I have clearly given away the suspense, even without saying it in very explicit terms, but then if you are still confused, you should take this hint. This movie falls into the category of some other brilliant movies like Iris and Away from Her. Those two movies are just heart wrenching and too good. Gives you a tear or two and is about two old couple again battling the same problem. Iris is especially well done with beautiful dialogues, because it is about a writer. Okay, sorry for digressing. I wouldn’t rate this in par with those, but the point that separates this movie from them is the suspense element. No one can guess it till the very (almost) end. Ellen Burstyn’s performance is again very commendable. As is the leading actor, Martin Landau. I haven’t seen much of his movies but his performance in this as the old and very fragile guy living alone and then bursting with energy when Mary enters his life. A very heart felt performance. The whole movie rests on these two characters.
With younger people, this movie and some of its dialogues, might have seemed very clichéd. But the same with these two old souls, I don’t even know what to say. The compassion, the support, the care, all screams love. At times expressing love through words is very overrated. Not always, but there are moments when a small gesture can speak a lot more than what words can convey. I have seen such couples during my European trip and it feels good to even watch and may be, if I am lucky, to wish for it. A very different movie based on Christmas and a lovely one too.