If there’s one challenge surely more difficult than being creative, it must be filming it. Most movies attempting to navigate the recesses of the awakened mind unraveling inside a character’s head as a plot device, have been perplexing failures. But Jan Schutte’s Love Comes Lately proves the exception, surprising and delighting with its never less than astonishing procession of real and make-believe oddball characters joining one another for food or sex, then assuming their more appropriate places sorted out as fact from fiction eccentrics.
And no wonder, since Love Comes Lately is based on three intertwined bittersweet tales (The Briefcase, Alone and Old Love) conceived by the late eminent writer, Isaac Bashevis Singer. A comically inspired yet solemn collage of one elderly gent’s overactive, multi-layered imagination, Love Come Lately contemplates last chance desire – romantic, erotic and otherwise – in collision with the brutal realities of inevitable physical decay and death.
Assuming the identity of at least three characters (several of them sprung from his rich fantasy life) Max (Otto Tausig) is a recognized fiction writer and brooding octogenarian who divides his time between setting off by train around the country to give college lectures on fate versus free will, worrying about his health, mediating between his deteriorating body and the brain that persists in regenerative dreaming, and placating his nagging longtime elderly girlfriend (Rhea Perlman) who is certain that the frisky senior and suspected ladies man is cheating on her. Or was it really just one of his tempting female literary inventions?
Disturbed by nightmares that nevertheless provide heady fuel for his writing and in constant surreal conversations with his characters, Max endures everything from a train conductor demanding to know if he still has intercourse at his age, on penalty of being tossed off; a tight lipped hotel maid (Elizabeth Pena) with a disfigured shoulder who crawls into bed with him to see if he’s still capable of getting horny; an ex-student and doper seductress (Barbara Hershey) who complains that his stories never have any happy endings; a couple of midnight intruders with flashlights who conspire to remove his manhood in his sleep for his offense of flirting too much; and an enchanting widow (Tovah Feldshuh) who may have committed suicide prior to their first kiss.
By the end Max has become so bewildered and emotionally drained, not to mentioned seriously henpecked by his fed-up girlfriend, that he’s left mulling just taking off in search of one of his enticing young literary groupie female characters (Olivia Thirlby) gone native somewhere in the wilderness. Where they might whimsically spend their days pondering ‘why people are born and why they must die.’ A wildly buoyant tale of a geriatric imagination fired up on mental viagra.
3 1/2 stars