THE pairing of Jane Fonda and Robert Redford in their new Netflix movie Our Souls at Night and their receipt of a career tribute at the Venice Film Festival was a sight to behold. Fonda, 79, teared-up at the latter event and, looking chic in a blue crystal encrusted gown, was a kind of ambassador for the fitness regime she has maintained throughout her life.
“This is a lifetime achievement award but I feel like I’m just beginning,” she told the crowd.
Redford, 81, looking more his age, admitted earlier in the day that he hasn’t enjoyed the effects of aging.
“What you have to adjust to, which has been on a personal level very difficult for me, is that you suddenly realise you have to start being careful,” says the actor who rose to fame as The Sundance Kid and skiing down the slopes in Downhill Racer.
“When I was younger I was very athletic and I could move the way I wanted to, when I wanted, I never thought about it. When you’re old if you’re not careful, the consequences are greater. It creates a restriction of some kind and that’s kind of sad.”
In Venice, Redford was accompanied by his German artist wife, Sibylle Szaggars, 60, while Fonda, having recently split from partner Richard Perry, was on her own.
In the movie and on stage they looked like a perfect match. They’ve known each other since the 1960s when they appeared together in The Chase and Barefoot In The Park so they slipped into their new roles with ease.
Our Souls at Night is a romance where their characters, Addie and Louis take a while to consummate their relationship.
Initially Addie is proactive like the woman who plays her. She’s tired of being lonely and visits Redford’s widower with a proposition: that they spend their nights lying beside each other.
Taken aback initially, Louis eventually agrees. He enters her house via the rear door and when she insists he come through the front entrance, his old coffee shop buddies find out and start to tease him. Addie’s son is another critic.
When he splits from his wife Addie looks after her grandson who often sleeps between her and Louis and is happier than ever. Louis proves to be a soothing grandfather figure.
In the movie the chemistry between Fonda and Redford is palpable.
“We had not worked together for 47 years and I wanted to be able to fall in love with Bob again,” Fonda says.
“I always was in love with him in all the movies that I made with him. For me, this movie is about hope. It’s about the fact that it’s never too late.”
Redford, a powerhouse filmmaker and founder of the Sundance Festival, personally produced the film, which is directed by Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox), who had gone through a Sundance director’s programme. While Redford has announced that he will retire from acting, he is not giving up producing or directing.
“I felt the film business was pointing more towards the younger audience and there were very few opportunities for films to be made that would satisfy the older audience,” he says of Our Souls at Night.
“I also feel that love stories always will have a life and I was looking to do another film with Jane.”
That's Matthias Schoenaerts who plays my son in "Our Souls At Night." A fantastic actor!! pic.twitter.com/x0jOEJoTvC— Jane Seymour Fonda (@Janefonda) November 4, 2016
He admits he shares a natural chemistry with Fonda. “When I first met Jane there was something very natural that occurred that didn’t require a lot of discussion.” It’s not as if romantic love changes just because you’re older.
“No, it just increases,” he chuckles. ”It depends on who you’re with, of course.”
“I think it gets better, because first of all, we’re braver,” admits Fonda.
“What the heck do we have to lose? So my skin sags. So does his. You know your body better and so you’re not afraid to ask for what you need. I think on a love and sexual level, it gets better. I think although we never actually see the sex in this movie of ours, God damn it, I think it’s great that they still want to have sex and that they do, and that they become profoundly together.”
At the Emmys last weekend for her Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, Fonda, with her hair swept off her face in a high ponytail and wearing a hot pink gown, looked like a Barbie doll and had everyone in awe.
“I’ve had three lovers already in the series, and it’s been fun,” she coos.“I’m so happy that we’re giving a cultural face to older women.”
Fonda plays a vibrator entrepreneur in the show. Still, the Barbarella beauty is the first to admit that as you grow older there are responsibilities with being a grandparent and parent that you have to embrace. Ultimately Addie takes a tough decision.
“You never get over what you didn’t do that you should have done as a parent,” Fonda admits.
“If you’re lucky enough to be given a second chance, I think that that overrides love with a man, with someone who’s not in your family. If I had a chance to try to make up for what I didn’t do as a parent, that’s where I would go, because when you die, when you are on your death bed, it’s not how much money you made or how many awards you got or any of that. It’s, ‘Do your children love you?’ ‘Do your friends love you?’ ‘Did you do all you could?’ I think that’s what motivated Addie to say, ‘Much as I love this man, I have to seize this second chance to be a mother and a grandmother and make up for what I didn’t do’.”
Redford concurs. “When we’re young and we’re starting out we think about ourselves. We think about what we’re going to do with our lives, what we’re going to do with our careers.
“When we bring children into the world it takes a while to make the adjustment where you’re only thinking about them. As time goes on you realize you have a responsibility to take care of them. Not only to take care of them, but to give them love, to give them humour, maybe give them adventure, if you can.
“I think that’s something that this film has in it, that occurred when Addie and Louis were young. They were too busy thinking about their own lives.
“Certainly Louis didn’t think about his children until it was almost too late. Then when you realise, ‘Oh my God. I have a responsibility that I’ve let go of, you wonder, what can I do? Can I retrieve it? Can I bring it back?’ That creates a kind of dramatic tension and I think this film has that.”