Starring: Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Bradford Dillman
Director: Sydney Pollack
Running Time: 118 mins
The Way We Were is an American film about a woman and a man who, despite being complete opposites in their fundamental beliefs since college, grow close over the years surrounding the Second World War.
For a film that seemingly views itself as such a seminal romantic drama, I was disappointed by the level of emotional power. Yes, it has some great performances by Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, and it is an engaging watch throughout, but it’s by no means an emotionally engrossing or exciting story, and that’s where it falls down most.
However, let’s start with the positives, the biggest of which is definitely the lead performances. Between the two, Barbra Streisand stands out most. Her loud and strong-willed performance is great to see throughout, and even though her character isn’t hugely favourable at any time, Streisand gives her enough humanity and conviction to be surprisingly supportable.
Meanwhile, Robert Redford impresses alongside. He may not be as vociferous as Streisand, but he pulls off a brilliantly charming performance that works as a great antidote to Streisand. The two contrast and complement each other very well, and that makes their relationship hugely convincing, with their performances providing the best emotional drama of the film.
If it weren’t for the lead two, this film would definitely have been lost, but their charisma and chemistry is what really makes it an engaging watch throughout. However, there are still a lot of issues that bring the film down despite the strong central performances.
For one, it feels surprisingly stagnant. The story centres around the development of love over the course of three decades, ranging from New York to Hollywood, but the drama and importance of that story never really comes across in the film.
That’s in part due to the directing, which I felt lacked a real passion. Whilst the leads were doing well to keep their characters interesting, I was disappointed that so much of the film gets bogged down in overly long conversations, sometimes not even between the two of them, and owing to the fact that the screenplay isn’t all that powerful or emotional, the conversations feel all the more frustrating and lacking in power.
Overall, I was disappointed by The Way We Were. Yes, it’s got two strong lead performances, and it’s an engaging watch throughout as a result. However, the film doesn’t do well to emphasise the emotional drama of its characters’ situation, and ended up feeling a lot less powerful than it should have been, and that’s why it gets a 7.1 from me.