Sometimes Afternoon Tea at the Alamo provides us the perfect excuse to see a movie that one of hasn’t seen and would have eventually made its way to the List. This month, the tea movie was Somewhere in Time, a top favorite of AM’s mom, Christine.
Brooke, what did you think of this romance? Do you love it as much as Christine does?
B: I’m not sure anyone loves Somewhere In Time quite as much as Christine does. But Gretchen, our favorite person at the Alamo (in part because she brews our tea, in part because we love her introductions, and finally because we really want to be friends with her, but are too awkward to make that happen — Hi Gretchen!) did give it a glowing recommendation after having watched it for the first time herself.
I had zero idea this movie existed before I pulled up the monthly tea listing. So, I went into this thing with no real idea what was happening (I didn’t have a clue time travel was involved until the pre-show), but a few trusted endorsements. I was a little skeptical at first, as it took QUITE a long time for our hero to sort out that he needed to go to the past, and then determine how to get there. But, I came around to this rather bonkers little plot and ended up very much enjoying this tale of doomed romance. But, I do have one gripe. Our heroine, Elise McKenna, doesn’t get nearly as much to do as I think she should. She gets some nice firecracker moments late in the game, but I want to know a lot more about her, you know?
SO, here’s what I need from you, AM. Please imagine what she does from the time Richard disappears until we see her hand him the pocket watch as an aged lady. The movie seems to suggest that she loses all joy when she loses him, but at least tell me some sweet ditty about how she used her pain to become the greatest, or something. And go!
A: Of course, being the daughter of Christine, we watched this film quite a bit when I was a kid. It’s one of my mom’s all-time favorites (she equally loves The American President and While You Were Sleeping) but since Christopher Reeve was her Superman, Somewhere in Time might top them all. It’s much sappier than I had remembered, and I’m kind of tripping on Reeve’s nervous “I’m Richard Collier, you don’t know me but you will” mantra that seemed much more intensely creepy than Child Annemarie remembered. However, I do like his persistent determination to make his connection with Elise and clearly, there’s chemistry.
I’m with you on Elise’s lack of character development. She shows some gumption (“I am an actress, Mr. Robinson, not a doormat. Do not attempt to wipe your boots on me.“) but we don’t get to see much of her personality. I’m also not sure I buy her falling in love over the course of a day, but I will allow it for the sake of the plot. Enough with the story, onto the questions!
The tragedy in their parting certainly affected her. How could it not? One second, you’re blissfully enjoying a late afternoon carpet picnic with the man of your dreams, the next, he disappears? Perhaps he fades away? It’s not clear from the 1980 special effects, but he clearly goes away and she has no idea where he went. She must deduce that he used time travel to find her, but I imagine that finding him was her life’s obsession. I don’t think she acted again, but perhaps became involved in the arts as a patron of some kind? It’s quite sad to think about, actually.
Brooke, what’s your take on the post-Richard encounter? What else can we make up about Elise’s life to fill in her character? Also, favorite dress, GO!
B: Definitely agree that he was a little too desperate. Like, just because you traveled back in time to fulfill what you think has happened doesn’t mean she owes you the time of day, bro. Also, did he ever even ask her anything about herself, or was just his gaze enough to send him down this wacky spiral?
But, I digress, you want to know my thoughts on Richard disappearing and the aftermath. Based on the vague special effects you mentioned, I think he kind of faded away, like one of the gnomes who lost the will to live in that Gnome-Mobile movie you made me watch. Based on that, I could see Elise sort of pulling into herself, and being all, “the only dude I ever banged actually disappeared on me, so I’m just going to count on myself from now on.” But I don’t like the idea of her moldering away, pining after this guy. I’d much rather that she lived a full life like Rose does after she leaves Jack to the Atlantic, you know? SO, I’m going to say that she fires her bossy manager and starts running the show like a QUEEN. Further, I think she’s going to work though her feelings by writing and occasionally finding a muse she’ll take as a lover. She won’t let the muses into her heart, that’s for her invisible man, but she will take inspiration from them, and let them distract her weary mind for a bit.
I think my favorite dress hands down is the fancy number she’s wearing by the lake when he sees her for the first time. It feels like a proto-flapper look, and I’m really into it. What’s your favorite dress, AM? And tell me, if we were to find ourselves in 1912 for a bit, what would you do?
A: Ahhh the allusions to Titanic. The year is quite the specific connection, isn’t it? There’s actually quite a bit here that’s similar to Titanic, from the obvious (the time period) to the thematic (doomed couple finds love but is ultimately doomed by space and time and inevitability). Now that I’m thinking about it more, Richard literally disappearing after she (probably) loses her virginity to him would be quite the trauma. I like that you’re keeping her boosted up by owning her life, but I honestly feel it’s more likely that she became a recluse and obsession ruled her life. Anyway, let’s be optimistic here, shall we? Your version is better.
I absolutely love the outfit (namely, the tall black feathered hat) that Elise wears during the last scene of the play. It was dramatic and chic and I would 100% wear it. She has quite the romantic wardrobe, in keeping with her character and the film itself. Speaking of clothes, we can’t forget that Richard’s out-of-fashion suit is what caused him to be ripped back to the present in the first place. Had he done a better job of cleaning out all the pockets, they might have actually lived happily ever after. Knowing that that is going to happen, I always cringe when I see him discover 1970s coins before he goes back and berate himself for being so dumb. It’s the height of tragedy.
Speaking of which, we don’t watch a lot of pure tragedies around these parts, can this film be considered the most tragic of Required Viewing (excepting Titanic?)
I would be a terrible time traveler. I would definitely out myself as an imposter almost immediately. There’s no way I would know how to do my hair or speak properly, and if it was too far back in the past, I’d be burned as a witch super fast. It would be really fun to time travel with a guide though, someone to make sure you were appropriately attired and give you background knowledge on customs. If they ever figure out how to make time travel happen, let’s sign up for a guided experience, shall we? Same question back to you, how would you do and also, what era would you prefer to go to?
B: Your thoughts on the idea that they might actually have ended up together, if not for a penny, reminded me of my number one question about this movie! Wouldn’t he have died if he stayed under too long? I’m reading this kind of like an addiction tale, where as far as Richard is concerned, he’s fully there in 1912, but it doesn’t seem like his body actually leaves 1980. Does it? Explain it to me. I don’t think it does, and if it doesn’t, he would definitely have starved, or died of thirst right? But to your point, is it more traumatic to lose your virginity to a time-traveling projection, or to have said projection ripped away from you in the afterglow?
Hmmm… is this the most tragic Required Viewing? That’s a great question. It’s definitely up there. I would argue that American Honey and Black Swan both bring a fair amount of devastation to the table, but they’re not necessarily tragic in the Shakespearean sense of the word. If tragedy is what you seek, I can accommodate.
For sure in for a guided time travel experience, but I too would be terrible at blending in. I’m not particularly adept at being stealth or lying. The only thing I really have in my favor on that front is that my face is difficult to read — if you don’t know me. I don’t “face out loud” as much as some of our dear friends (and also you) do. Still, I think I would take the risk, assuming I could doppelgang as someone from the upper crust and sit at tea and shenanigans all day. Obviously, I’m going to England in the Victorian era to be friends with the Queen. Yep, that’s the move. My second choice would be to go to New York in 1984/85 and befriend Madonna during the making of Desperately Seeking Susan, so I could see her at her most wonderful, rebellious, ambitious stage.
A: I’m going to answer the less fun question first. I think he literally moved, body and soul, to the past. The fact that he woke up in a different room than the one he started in when he returned to 1980 confirms it for me.
I’m going to go with a random one: ancient Egypt. I know that spanned thousands of years, but I would just dearly love to actually see some part of that era in person. Hieroglyphics just don’t convey what that world actually looked like, and I’m very curious. Second choice would also be New York, in the Carnegie era so I could buy real estate then and make a FORTUNE when I returned to 2017.
Next time we’ll visit another tale of obsession, but this one has a twist of murder, and a legendary beauty.