05 December 2010

On Golden Pond (starring Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda)

For some reason, we had never seen 'On Golden Pond' despite it being something of a classic. Indeed, we vaguely thought it had probably been made in the 1950s, and were most surprised to find that it was produced as recently as 1981.

The film features Norman (Henry Fonda) and Ethel (Katharine Hepburn) as an elderly couple who spend their summers on Golden Pond. Norman is a crusty old guy with a terrific low-key sense of humour, and Ethel is his wife of many years: sometimes long-suffering, sometimes deeply loving.

Their daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda - Henry Fonda's daughter in real life) has been estranged from her parents for quite some time. But this summer, at last, she comes to visit them with her fiancé Bill, and his thirteen-year-old son Billy. Chelsea and Norman have never managed to communicate that they really do care deeply for each other and Ethel is caught between them on many occasions.

Poor Billy is rebellious - wanting his father's attention, not wanting to be dragged along with a potential stepmother, and totally hating the thought of living with people old enough to be his grandparents. Even worse, Chelsea and Bill take a break without him, leaving Norman to make tentative overtures of friendship.

There's not a huge amount of action in this film; it covers just one summer that passes slowly with fishing trips, and loons calling on the lake. It is, however, extremely moving at times. It explores the depth of relationships in an elderly couple, and also manages to examine some of the problems of dysfunctional families. Perhaps most moving of all was the special friendship that developed between an angry teenager and a grumpy grandfather figure.

Totally delightful. Rated PG in both the UK and USA, probably due to mild instances of bad language, but I would consider it suitable for anyone who likes a gentle, relationship-based story that is beautifully made.

Highly recommended.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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