“We’re older and wiser, especially me,” said Jane Fonda, remarking on her reunion with costar Robert Redford after nearly 40 years for their fifth film together, “Our Souls at Night.” The pair are well-known for their performances together in “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Electric Horseman.”
The film tells the story of two elderly neighbors — Addie and Louis, played by Fonda and Redford — who seek to make the most of the time they have left by sleeping with each other after being practical strangers for decades. Both characters find solace in starting over as they confront the baggage attached to their past familial failures.
Although reunions were a cause for celebration for some, the passing of time seemed to weigh especially heavy on Fonda’s mind. When asked what attracted to her to the role at the film’s New York premiere at MoMA on Wednesday night, Fonda replied, “It’s a wonderful character who is very brave, and who decides that she doesn’t have that much time left probably.”
“She decides to take a leap of faith and do something that she never have imagined herself doing,” Fonda added. “Which is to ask him to come over and sleep with her, and it’s very beautiful. I really relate to her.”
The reunion of two greats attracted screenwriters Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter to sign on to the project. When Netflix came to Weber and Neurstadter with the idea of writing a film for the Academy Award winners they responded, “Yes, of course, we’d be interested in this. We don’t even care what it is.” The film costars Bruce Dern, Judy Greer, Matthias Schoenaerts and Iain Armitage.
Director Ritesh Batra noted that the time he spent working alone with Fonda and Redford was the part of the film’s process he treasured the most. Batra shared that the three of them were able to spend a few days before the shoot rehearsing in the bedroom set that “features in the movie” prominently.
The director had a more personal reason for taking on the project, inspired by living in close quarters with his grandfather while growing up. “I had a lot of fun imagining him getting a second shot at love,” Batra said.