Oliver drives to his father's retirement party. It is clearly winter since there are no leaves on the trees. He stays overnight at his father's house. The next morning the scene in the kitchen shows that it is now spring or summer, since there are now leaves on the trees (not evergreens) outside the windows. See more »
If love really does mean never having to say your sorry, then the producers of Oliver's Story should consider themselves lucky, because otherwise they'd have a lot to apologize for. Banal, melancholic and tepidly shallow, Oliver's Story is of all things a complete antithesis to Hiller's infinitely superior Love Story. Where Love Story was a celebration of life in the midst of death, Oliver's Story is narratively lifeless, so wallowing in death that in retrospect makes the finale of the first film seem like Laugh-In. In Love Story, Arthur Hiller was able to capture the optimism, vitality and spirit of its youth subjects, providing its flower children audience with a moral center to believe in. Here was a couple, Jenny and Oliver, who overcame class, religious and parental boundaries to create a marriage based on love over money or politics or heritage. Love Story was the penultimate baby boomer picture, a movie for youth the world over to celebrate their liberal optimism and flower power innocence.
In Oliver's Story these characters have grown tired, and so has the first film's spirit. The motivated, liberated youth from the first film become the self-centered, pouty aristocrats that populate this sequel. The hippie sensibilities of the first have been replaced with yuppie complacency, as Oliver goes on a journey discovering that hey, plant ownership ain't so bad after all. The "love story" in this film is pointless, since both characters care too much about themselves to ever come close to capturing the shared bonding between Oliver and Jenny in the first film. Marcie fills her life with recreation, be it tennis, fancy dinners or overseas photography. Oliver starts off a lawyer with a social concern, but ends up accepting his position into land-owning bourgeois society all because, you guessed it, Jenny would want him to do so. Please.
The movie is called Oliver's Story, and if it is to be about Oliver's soul searching, it is the most passive and empty searching as I've ever seen. O'Neal, who can be great when he wants to be, is reduced to pouting while looking onto open landscapes. While the film covers a span of two years, the dreary setting remains a constant winter, and the trees are as dead as the emotion in this film. Some will call it smart for eschewing the standard romance plot, as Bergen's character becomes a write-off after an abrupt confrontation two-thirds in, but it is just arrogant writing. Writer Erich Segal (who also penned the first film), seems determined to breakaway from seemingly low brow romance conventions, but in so doing he has created a totally stale and empty film. What is a romance film without any romance? Even the brief sex scene between O'Neal and Bergen is so truncated and undeveloped that it amounts to all the eroticism of a loaf of bread. Stale.
The film veers from being a love story to being an empty film on just how oh-so-tough it is being bourgeois. The first film worked so well because Ali MacGraw brought a spunk to her lower class Jenny, who in turn was able to free Oliver from his upper class conceits. Without Jenny, Oliver is just another pouty aristocrat, and nobody wants to see a movie about the wealthy complaining about how hard off they are. Sorry, but tennis matches, overseas trips and countryside dinners do not strike me as a particularly sympathetic lifestyle, widower or not.
The whole film is an insult to the original, embracing money over love, individual self-pity over altruistic compassion, and pouting over pleasure. It's one big melancholic bore, where we spend ninety minutes waiting for Oliver to come to the conclusion he should have reached at Jenny's funeral, and that is the need to move on. What does he move to? The comfort of his father's wealth. For those two lovers in the first film, who needed only love to make it, such a conclusion is particularly disheartening. Those who wish to preserve their love for the first film and its characters are best to avoid this sellout Love $tory.
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