In the movie “Lovely, Still,” Robert Malone (Oscar winner Martin Landau*) is an elderly perennial bachelor who leads a tidy, uneventful and some might even say empty life. This Christmas, for whatever reason, Robert is feeling the lack of family more keenly than usual. Then one day, like a single man’s dream, Robert comes home from his job at a grocery store to find a beautiful woman in his house. Her name is Mary (Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn), and while Robert is initially shocked and angry, she quickly explains that she has just moved in across the street, saw his door open, and was concerned for the welfare of the homeowner. Their flap settled, Mary is on her way out when she turns to Robert and pertly asks him out to dinner. A little nonplussed, Robert agrees, and thus begins a late-life courtship that leaves the bachelor in a constant state of wonderment and surprise. He eventually must admit that he is falling in love. But there’s something about Mary that seems not right. She’s overeager, almost pushy, in the way she engages Robert almost every hour; within days, they are like teenagers, conjoined in first love. Robert is besotted, but soon becomes unnerved by the intensity of his love. He grows paranoid, jealous and erratic, all from fear of losing her. At this point, the narrative takes an extraordinary turn, with a development in the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock or the novelist Daphne du Maurier. This tectonic shift in perspective leads to a powerful, tremendously moving conclusion, made all the richer by a heightened understanding of what has come before.
And who said that nearly 80+ year old actors and actresses can’t potentially get Oscar winning roles?
* Ironically, Martin Landau starred as Frank Malone on the hit CBS television drama “Without A Trace.”