Addie Moore is clearly forthright, tho even she momentarily hesitates before suggesting to her similarly widowed neighbor, Louis Waters, that he come over and they sleep together. She means it literally. Just talking, falling asleep beside each other, because “the nights are the worst, don’t you think?”
Kent Haruf’s haunting final novel is a favorite of Boomer Revue. The prose is as flat and spare as the plains surrounding the small Colorado town where Addie and Louis live. Robert Redford told Esquire he found the book "beautifully written" and thought Jane Fonda "would force me to take a risk as a character." He sent it to her, a half century after they frolicked as newlyweds in Barefoot in the Park. Fonda quickly replied, “I’m in.” Their last film together, The Electric Horseman, was released in 1979.
The two have an easy chemistry informed by shared history as they play off each other. Details and regrets about the past are explored in the nighttime conversations—reluctantly at first, then intensifying. Addie suffered an unbearable loss. Louis had a long-ago extramarital affair, the repercussions still echoing in an added scene with his brittle-but-plucky
adult daughter. When Addie’s flailing son drops off her seven-year-old grandson, Jamie (Iain Armitage), for a stay, they work together to help the withdrawn boy feel at home. Louis, cleverly summed up by a row of nearly identical blue plaid shirts hanging in his closet, becomes increasingly adventuresome and giving. Which, as in the novel, includes buying Jamie a black-and-white rescue dog he names Bonny. As the pair draw ever closer.
The pacing will be too leisurely for some, and the original wrenching story has been made more palatable. Plus it would have been fun to hear Addie challenge Louis in one of the book’s many memorable lines: Now are you going to kiss me in this big hotel bed or not? No matter. There's good music and some beautiful scenery. And inhabiting their roles (especially Fonda), celebrated actors—burnished by the years and good lighting—who captivate in this under-the-wire romance.