Review by Xan Brooks
September 1, 2017
Adapted from the Kent Haruf novel, Our Souls at Night is your classic Hollywood weepie, so immaculately played that it confounds crass preconceptions. It arrived in Venice saddled with a premise that could hardly sound more cloying, together with an unfortunate title that has had hardened British hacks giggling like schoolboys at the back of the class. Critics get their first sniff of Our Souls at Night! Two thumbs up: Our Souls at Night! But Ritesh Batra’s film comes cynic-proofed. It won me over from the very first scene.
Louis (Robert Redford) is a widower who lives on the sleepy fringes of small-town Colorado, where he is unable to get much shut-eye of his own. He’s always up before the sun comes up, with the radio on and the newspaper open, just another lonesome old man living an Edward Hopper existence. Then one night there’s a tap on the door and in walks Addie (Jane Fonda), who lives across the street and is in pretty much the same boat. Out of the blue, without preamble, Addie asks Louis if he wouldn’t mind coming over to sleep with her. Not for the sex, just for the company, because she is lonely and the nights are the worst. It’s a terrific opening gambit and Fonda plays it with aplomb. Her appeal is so nakedly sincere that something catches in your chest.
More on Kent…..
Kent Haruf was born in eastern Colorado. He received his Bachelors of Arts in literature from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973. For two years, he taught English in Turkey with the Peace Corps (1965-67) and his other jobs have included a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado, a hospital in Arizona, a library in Iowa, an alternative high school in Wisconsin, and universities in Nebraska and Illinois.
Haruf is the author of Plainsong, which received the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Award in Fiction, and The New Yorker Book Award. Plainsong was also a finalist for the 1999 National Book Award. His novel, The Tie That Binds, received a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the Pen/Hemingway Foundation. In 2006, Haruf was awarded the Dos Passos Prize for Literature.
All of his novels are set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado. Holt is loosely based on Yuma, Colorado, an early residence of Haruf in the 1980s.
Haruf lived with his wife, Cathy, in Salida, Colorado, with their three daughters. He died of cancer on November 30, 2014