Young playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) is given an antique watch by a mysterious old woman, who asks him to travel back in time with her. Some time later, Collier becomes fascinated by the subject of an old portrait - a beautiful young lady (Jane Seymour), who turns out to be the same woman who had approached him all those years before. The writer resolves to return to 1912 and track down the object of his obsession.
It's silly, it's superficial, it's so desperately earnest about its tale of time-spanning love that you almost wish for a cheap flatulence gag just to break the solemn mood. But there is something so unabashedly gushy and entertaining about Somewhere in Time
that you can't begrudge its enduring popularity. The film has become a staple of romantic-movie lovers since its release in 1980, and endless showings on cable TV have turned it into a dubious classic of sorts--a three-hanky weepy that anyone can enjoy as a guilty pleasure or a beloved favourite, with no apologies necessary. In his first film after the star-making success of Superman
, Christopher Reeve stars as a contemporary playwright who visits a posh hotel and sees the portrait of an actress (Jane Seymour) who had performed there in 1912. He becomes obsessed with this beautiful woman and learns all he can about her, and then discovers a method of hypnotically transporting himself backward in time to meet her. "Is it ... you?" she says upon seeing the lovestruck playwright, and it's clearly a mutual attraction. But even the slightest reminder of the playwright's modern time can jar him from his seemingly real existence in the past, so his wonderful love affair is constantly just a step from being stolen away. Based on Richard Matheson's novel Bid Time Return
, this flaky film may strain one's tolerance for plot holes and corny romance, but it's hard to deny its lasting appeal--and let's face it, guys, it'll make wives and girlfriends swoon if they are in a tearjerker mood. --Jeff Shannon