Somewhere in Time (1980)
Reviewer: Charity Bishop
Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour star in this passionate story of love that travels through time and space. Richard Collier (Reeves) is a satisfied playwright until a mysterious old woman presses a pocket watch into his hand and whispers, "Come back to me."
Eight years pass, and Richard finds himself at his wits end, uncertain in his writing career. For a brief holiday, he travels to a well-known hotel and resort near to the seashore, and once there learns of the mysterious woman, who had, in 1912 (nearly sixty years before) been a famed actress who had stayed in that very hotel. Coming across a photograph of her in the Hall of Time, Richard finds himself bewitched by her beauty, and the fact that he had met her shortly before her death. Convinced that he belongs in her time and age, he wills himself to return, undergoing self-hypnosis to attempt the feat. It fails again and again, but at last, upon discovering that in 1912 "Richard Collier" had signed the guest ledger, time and space dissolve and he finds himself in the stunning elegance of Elsie's era.
Meeting the stunning actress upon the beach, he is shocked when she whispers, "Is it you?" but then evades him with the aid of her overbearing friend and guardian, William Robinson (Christopher Plummer), who tells Richard in very strict tones to leave her alone. But love comes swiftly, and when Elsie agrees to a walk with him (after a great deal of persuasion that evokes a smile) Richard is thrilled. But how long will it last? One cannot remain in the past forever... and his time with Elsie may be fleeting. What did she mean upon the beach? The answer lies Somewhere in Time.
I was rather disappointed in this film. From the raving reviews and the expectation of an appearance by my favorite actress, my hopes were raised a bit too high, and dashed upon this film's inconsistencies and moral standard. The filming of most of the first half seemed poor, too dark and unenlightening, and the scene upon the beach, as he walks along, watching her through the trees, is maddening. I kept wanting to shove aside the branches and get a good look! I will give point-blank the problems in Somewhere in Time and then my praises. I was very disappointed in the fact that this "passionate tale" revolved around two people falling in love in a matter of hours and sleeping with one another immediately. (There was nothing graphic, but no question in one's mind as to what had happened. They go into his room and Elsie lets down her hair. We see their upper bare shoulders as they embrace and fall back down upon the bed and the candle is snuffed out.) Elsie was so beautiful and innocent that I felt having her commit such an immoral act was unnecessary.
The sets, horses, guests, costumes, hats, and hairstyles made me feel as if I had stepped back in time. They were perfect, no expense spared, and could have been made better only by more quality cameras. The scene where Elsie and Richard are reunited upon the steps of the hotel is breathtakingly filmed and exquisitely acted upon both parts. Seymour, as always, was magnificent, but I felt Reeve's acting lacked something. An appearance by Christopher Plummer as Elsie's guardian and an all-around jerk was surprising. It's a pity that casual intimacy and a dark beginning and end bring this film to a rather wary conclusion. For Reeve and Seymour fans alike, it will no doubt win over many hearts. I'm just sorry to say that mine wasn't among them.