A playful Jane Fonda and Robert Redford hit the Lido today to chat about their new film Our Souls At Night which screened for the international press this morning. Directed by The Lunchbox’s Ritesh Batra, the romantic pic about a pair of longtime neighbors who find love well past middle age was warmly received here at the Venice Film Festival. The official out-of-competition screening is tonight when veterans and on-and-off collaborators Fonda and Redford will receive lifetime achievement Golden Lions.
Although her Our Souls At Night character Addie doesn’t come with the Malibu sheen of Fonda’s Grace & Frankie vibrator entrepreneur, they do share being older women who are also sexual beings. Still, Our Souls At Night — which, like Grace & Frankie, is a Netflix original — is a more quiet meditation on older folks making a new connection; there is carnal knowledge, but it’s a slow build.
The ultimate coupling evidently wasn’t shot long enough on screen for Fonda’s tastes, however. She goaded director Batra that the sex scenes were cut too soon. And said of Redford, “I live for sex scenes with him.” The pair first worked in the ’60s on The Chase and Barefoot In The Park. She teased, “He doesn’t like sex scenes” but “he’s a great kisser.”
More seriously, Fonda said she wanted to make this film with Redford because she “wanted to be able to fall in love with him again,” but also because it’s about hope. “It’s never too late. If you’re brave and willing to take risks and a leap of faith you can become what you were meant to be even if you’ve never been that before,” Fonda said. For that she got a round of applause from a rapt press corps.
Redford said he wanted to produce Our Souls, based on the book by Kent Haruf, as something that would satisfy the older audience. And, he wanted to do another film with Fonda “before I die.”
He said that going back nearly 50 years “things have always been easy,” between him and the actress. “They just fell into place. There’s a love there, there’s a connection there. It has to do with what your attitude is about work and what is your attitude about life,” he said.
Both activists, neither Redford nor Fonda got too deep into politics today except to note that we need “hope” and in a call to save the planet. Redford: “If we care about future generations, we only have one planet and it’s already been chewed up… We have a responsibility to do whatever we can to preserve what’s left.” Fonda: “That means a lot of changes, especially in our country.”
But overwhelmingly the pair fielded questions about their shared history. Fonda recalled walking down a corridor of Paramount’s Administration Building with Redford in the ’60s and noticing “all the secretaries” gasping, “There he is!” Fonda thought then, “Oh my God, this guy is going to become a huge star. It was very, very exciting to be working with him at that early stage.”
That was around the time of Barefoot In The Park, the classic New York-set newlywed comedy based on the Neil Simon play. Said Fonda, “I love the fact that these films booked our careers.”
Our Souls At Night starts streaming on Netflix September 29.