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Falling in Love

Year: 1984
Studio: Paramount
Director: Ulu Grosbard
Writer: Michael Cristofer
Cast: Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Harvey Keitel, Dianne Weist

As a schmaltzy love story, this film was almost too light to star two of the best actors of their generation (which was the reason I watched it). Frank (De Niro) and Molly (Streep) meet in a bookshop and like the look of each other, the way strangers sometimes do when nature takes its course.

They soon realise they catch the same train to work and start talking, arranging to meet and travel together, thinking it's just a friendship blossoming but wondering why they feel empty and disappointed when the other isn't there and why they can't stop thinking about each other.

There's no big subtext or deep dramatic arc. Both are married to other people and are quite happy with their lives and families. The story is simply about the strange, beautiful, scary, destructive, life affirming, invisible force that reaches out from one person to attach to another and for which there's no rhyme or reason.

There's no sex, no screaming matches or break-ups except for one tense, hurtful scene between Frank and his unsuspecting wife, and the pair don't go out of their way to hurt anyone else or be together, pulling back at the last minute even when they're about the sleep together. The movie just wants to tell you the story of what goes on all over the world every day, has since we first crawled out of the swamps and will do forever.

Like she did in Sophie's Choice, Streep is just gorgeous, and both her and De Niro bring their considerable talents to bear on comparatively light material, lifting it way above what you expect.

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