It's August. Like they have most summers, elderly widowed sisters Libby Strong and Sarah Webber, who live in Philadelphia, are staying together in the family's summer cottage on an island off the coast of Maine. The cottage, which now belongs to Sarah, has been in their family most of their lives, was the family's summer getaway from Philadelphia when they were younger. There are a few people who have been friends or acquaintances on the island, including the outspoken Tisha Dought, and Joshua Brackett. Someone new at least to Sarah's social circle is Mr. Maranov, a former Russian aristocrat. His stay on the island is threatened when his landlady, Hilda Partridge, passes away. Sarah and Libby have come to the realization they are in the respective twilight of their lives, Sarah, who still keeps busy and wants to savor life's pleasures, acts as now sightless, cantankerous and bitter Libby's caregiver. Sarah knows she can no longer take care of Libby. As such, Sarah has to make alternate living arrangements instead of the Philadelphia house.Those arrangements will not involve Libby's estranged daughter Anna, who has the means to take care of her mother, although not the want. It is their interactions with Tisha and Mr. Maranov which may decide their sisterly fate for the immediate future. —Huggo
Legends and grace!
This was the last film of Lillian Gish and it has to be the most graceful exit an actor or actress has ever had. All screen legends should have the dignity of their last film being this touching. This story is about two elderly sisters who are staying in their family cottage on the coast of Maine. Lillian Gish plays Sarah Webber the oldest of the two and she is caring for her sister Libby Strong (Bette Davis) who is blind and maybe in the early stages of senility. They have a neighbor and life long friend in Tisha (Ann Sothern) who suggests to Sarah that she might want to think of selling the old cottage. An acquantance named Mr. Maranov (Vincent Price) asks to fish on their shore but he really is fishing around for a place to live. He is of European nobility and full of stories but he has no money and seems to exist on the kindness of others. Both Sarah and Libby are widows and frequently relate events of the past to each other. The film is directed by Lindsay Anderson who usually makes satirical English films and this was his first American feature. He does an adequate job but he has the sense of just allowing the camera to catch every emotion these actors convey. This is not a great film but it is a very special one. Its a very simple story but thats just fine, something extra special doesn't have to be happening for this film to work. Gish was an amazing 93 when she made this and even at that age she showed she could carry a film and display an incredible amount of energy. She still had that girlish nature about her and her performance is a revelation. Davis was also incredibly strong but she suffered from having to recite some unbelievable dialogue. I didn't quite buy the scene where she comes out of her bedroom saying she had a dream about her and Sarah. But her best moments come in the quieter scenes. When Davis is gazing at nothing and thinking about her future you can only guess what is going on in her head. I thought she was at her best when the camera would just focus in on her face and she didn't speak. These two actress's were very different in their personalities and Davis was very difficult to work with later in her career. But I read a wonderful thing about the wrapping of this film. When the shooting was done Bette walked over to Lillian Gish and gave her a hug of mutual respect. It was high praise to have a cantankerous Bette Davis show that type of respect. Of course, Gish could charm anyone. She spent her career doing it. For you trivia buffs, Ann Sotherns real life daughter Tisha Sterling (Valley of the Giants) plays her as a young woman and Mary Steenburgen plays a young Sarah. This film is a must for all film buffs.
- Aug 28, 2003
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