Venice Film Festival

Fonda reunites with Redford on screen

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford bring a touch of classic Hollywood style to the oldest film festival in the world.
Actors Jane Fonda and Robert Redford attending the premiere of their movie, Our Souls At Night, at the 74th Venice Film Festival last Friday.
Actors Jane Fonda and Robert Redford attending the premiere of their movie, Our Souls At Night, at the 74th Venice Film Festival last Friday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

VENICE • Who is afraid of sex? Not Jane Fonda.

And the 79-year-old actress wishes the sex scene in her new movie with Robert Redford lasted longer, she said, as their latest screen collaboration, Our Souls At Night, premiered at the Venice Film Festival.

"I live for sex scenes with him," she told journalists in Venice.

"He's a great kisser, so it was fun to kiss him in my 20s and to kiss him again in my almost 80s."

Half a century after playing a young couple in Barefoot In The Park, they reunite in a Netflix production directed by Indian film- maker Ritesh Batra about getting another chance at love late in life.

Redford, also the movie's producer, wanted to make the film because so few are geared towards older audiences.

He also wanted to make another film with Fonda before dying.

Both Redford, 81, and Fonda were honoured with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the festival last Friday.

"Jane and I have a long history in film and I wanted us to have another chance and we are getting older," he said.

They had starred in Sydney Pollack's 1979 western The Electric Horseman. Prior to that, the pair played young married couples in 1966's The Chase and the following year's Barefoot In The Park.

In all three films, Fonda fell for her co-star, she said.

"In Barefoot, it was me who couldn't keep my hands off him," she joked.

Although both actors were married at the time, Redford suggested the sexual chemistry on screen was not just about acting craft.

"There were things spoken and things unspoken and the unspoken carried a certain weight, that is all I can say," he added.

Their new movie, which screened in the out-of-competition section at the festival, tells the story of Addie Moore and Louis Waters, two retired and widowed neighbours living in a small town in Colorado.

They have known each other for most of their lives, but rarely spoken. That changes when Addie knocks on Louis' door one night and asks: "Would you be interested in coming to my house some time to sleep with me?"

What starts as simply having bedtime conversations to help Addie fall asleep soon goes deeper.

They start sharing their long-silenced regrets about life-changing events in their married lives - Louis' extra-marital affair and Addie's loss of a daughter - and the resulting difficult relationships with their adult children.

"For me, the movie is about hope," Fonda said about the adaptation of the Kent Haruf novel of the same name. "If you're willing to make a leap of faith, you can become what you were meant to be even if you've never been that before."

While Redford lamented the fact that when you get older "you have to give up certain things", Fonda said at least when it comes to love and sex, getting older is a good thing.

"It gets better because we're braver, what the heck do we have to lose? So my skin sags, so does his.

"You know your body better so you're not afraid to ask for what you need," she said, chiding the director for cutting the film's solitary sex scene too short.

"It will be in the DVD extras," Batra responded.

Fonda, mollified, added: "So although we never actually get to see the sex in this movie of ours, I think it's great that they still want to have sex and that they do and they become profoundly together."

The sunset years also take on a golden sheen in two other movies at Venice. One which is tipped as a potential contender for the Golden Lion top prize is The Leisure Seeker, which sees Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland play a free-spirited older couple who embark on a Boston-Florida road trip to get away from their doctors and bossy grown-up children.

The issue of loneliness after bereavement also provides the backdrop to Victoria & Abdul, Stephen Frears' handling of the true story of the elderly Queen Victoria's friendship with an Indian clerk.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2017, with the headline 'Fonda reunites with Redford on screen'. Print Edition | Subscribe