SUMMER WISHES, WINTER DREAMS (1973). Director: Gilbert Cates.
Joanne Woodward is superb as Rita Walden, a middle-aged woman suffering a mid-life crisis. Her mother (Sylvia Sidney) dies of a heart attack while attending the cinema with her daughter, and the family is squabbling over what to do with her farm. Her son doesn't want anything to do with her since her negative reaction to discovering he was gay. She feels emotions for her loved ones deeply but has difficulty showing them. Martin Balsam is also excellent as her husband, who has an affecting scene describing how he killed some boys during the war while at the very same spot where it happened in Europe. Stewart Stern's screenplay may be low-key but it has a quiet power and some very moving moments. His dialogue is also splendid, such as when Woodward yells at her daughter "I may love you but I don't like you at all!" and when Balsam tells his wife that "you know you have your whole life ahead of you." To which Rita replies "It'll go by like a weekend." The film was somewhat ahead of its time in that Rita's husband suggests that their gay son Bob "was gay the day he was born." Imperfect perhaps, but full of good performances and well-directed by Cates.
Verdict: Absorbing, intelligent, sensitively-played drama for adults. ***1/2.