Thursday, 28 November 2013

Movie Review: On Golden Pond (1981)

This was the swansong for two of the greatest movie stars of all time.
On Golden Pond (1981) Poster
That is a semi true statement while it was indeed the great Henry Fonda's last movie, Katherine Hepburn carried on for a bit longer doing TV movies, throughout the 80's. The film begins with Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and his wife Ethel whom are on their summer vacation at, Golden Pond, where they have a summer cottage which they have owned since early in their marriage. This summer their daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda) decides to visit them for Norman's birthday. She brings along her new boyfriend and his son. She loves the boy in the care of her parents while she goes to Europe with her boyfriend. Norman and the boy develop a great friendship which enrages Chelsea because she never had a relationship like that with her father.

Where to begin. I liked this movie apart from one thing.. Jane Fonda drove me insane!. Her preduction company made this film and my god does it show. Both Jane and her brother Peter apparently did not have great relationships with their father Henry in real life (so rumor has it). In this film when I watched it all I could think is, Jane is trying to get to her father through this film. Now this got me, scenes where a few words are said and wow all is forgotten and all them years of hurt are just blurred out, kinda got on my nerves. Not quite real enough for me. Years of bullying and torment are not just erased I'm sure. For me the real joy in this film is the relationship with the elderly couple plus, the relationship they have with the boy. Its very charming to watch, seeing grouchy old Henry Fonda grow fond of the boy, be it fishing together or teaching him how to dive, it is great to see. Katherine Hepburn is great as ever, she is like the only person who tries to stay neutral in the film, especially with the scenes of the father and daughter. I still can't help but feel that this film was a lost chance just maybe without them pointless scenes with Jane Fonda I would of enjoyed it more. I just felt that there wasn't enough substance between them both. Thinking back now they both look kind of awkward acting together, its like I said maybe they didn't get on in real life, maybe someone else should of played her role. As a swansong of Henry Fonda I am gutted, he was a brilliant character actor, just say 12 Angry Men ( I reviewed that click on review list at top!) and I instantly go all gooey eyed on the quality of his performance in that film, and the film itself.

That been said seeing Henry Fonda playing an aging character did have charm. At times his character was like a lost lamb, without his wife there as his rock (typical Hepburn she thrived at these types of roles). One scene sees Norman picking Strawberries in the wood and panicking because he lost his way, great to see Henry Fonda do this, seen as he was always the tough quiet guy. If it wasn't for the wonderful Katherine Hepburn I wouldn't of enjoyed this film as much. Ms Hepburn is the rock to the characters but is also the rock to the whole film, if she wasn't there, it would fall flat on its face. I was sad to see these two great actors playing elderly people especially seen as how I adore their older films where they were so young and vibrant, its a stark reminder of mortality. That been said Ms Hepburn still had that old fire she was always famous for, always the strong determined woman, which I am sure she was in real life. Fonda and Hepburn both play well together as the elderly married couple, they are both believable together, for me they both have the most touching and charming scenes, more so than any with Jane Fonda and either of them.

Now If you want to see both of the huge Stars' last film, watch it, but don't expect a classic like their other work, but if you want to see what they did before Fonda died and Hepburn stepped out of the limelight, check it out you may just enjoy it more than me.
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