Tell Me a Riddle (1980)
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Warning, the first time I saw it, the male friend who was with me hated it, and wanted to walk out. When I recently re-watched it off cable, a male colleague called it "incredibly boring." Since I and every other woman I know who saw it loved it, I conclude that most men I know don't really get the subtleties of what was truly going on. Because Lila's relationships with her husband and daughter are reflected against the prism of her life, the director's artistic brilliance needs to be absorbed rather than spoon-fed. So my advice to other women is to see this one alone or with another woman. Otherwise, you may find yourself constantly being nagged to put on something with some action in it.
That being said, this is a terrific and sensitive movie. Enjoy it.
At only 62, she plays a seemingly much older character, facing her mortality with quiet love, yet so ready for that eternal rest. Having found love late in life and dying happily even with false illusions on "Zorba", she is now a long-married woman on one last quest with husband Melvyn Douglas, facing old haunting memories yet trying to retain some amount of self as her mind slips further away from the current world. Douglas, on the verge of his own real- life mortality, had a career upswing with a recent Oscar, going out with grace after a six decade film and stage career.
A woman's heart carries many secrets a wise lady once said, and in the case of Kedrova's quietly wise Eva, there's a ton of them. Eva lets the audience into her soul, showing us the horrors of her youth, and there is definitely a correlation between her reaction to the declining years and her haunting memories. Not wanting to infringe on her overly concerned children, Kedrova has a breakdown of sorts when she learns of Douglas's deception to get her out of the house that they can no longer take care of. Of the supporting cast, Brooke Adams is the only familiar name, playing their troubled daughter, but it is 80 year old Lili Valenti as an old friend of Kedrova's who makes the most of the smaller parts.
Difficult to watch from the perspective of having an aging mother of my own, I saw this as the themes of aging, desperation for independence yet a view of a life that can only be avoided by an early death. Even though she looks much younger than Douglas, Kedrova manages to convince me that she's much older, sort of a curse on itself that time can affect the mind and body even though the physical appears to be less than what it is. The hints of her past through flashbacks could very well be a movie of its own. Excellent heart-felt direction by the Oscar winning actress Lee Grant makes this a definite text to study for film scholars because the themes are so rich and filled with a live for the subject at hand. Made in the same time frame as "On Golden Pond", it is entirely different, almost even more poignant in some ways, and certainly re-affirming of what the last years of life should be all about.