On Golden Pond (1981)

On Golden Pond Movie review

On Golden Pond Movie Review

On Golden Pond is a 1981 drama film directed by Mark Rydell and starring Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda. The film was nominated for ten Oscars and it really is quite a good, pleasant drama.

The problem with the plot here is that it is typical and it ends on an expectedly saccharine tone. The whole story is very clich├ęd and predictable. However, what it lacks in originality, it more than compensates with its character work and realism. The film is very grounded in reality in that it portrays old people as they usually are. And the relationship between the two is so satisfying and just wonderful. In fact, I liked most of the relationships and character interactions here and some scenes are so moving.

Norman is realistic and although somewhat typical, he is still such a well realized character. I liked Ethel quite a bit as well and, as I said, they are so charming and wonderful together. Billy is also solid and the relationship between him and Norman is quite good. And I liked Chelsea, but I had a big problem with her subplot. Yes, it is very satisfying when she and her father finally start to develop a good relationship near the end and that issue is relevant, but the way they sorted their problems out still felt abrupt and way too fast. And because that issue was the most interesting development in this movie for me, it was very disappointing that it received so little screen time and such an abrupt conclusion.

The acting is expectedly great here. I was skeptical at first for the fact that both of the actors got Oscars for these roles, but I changed my mind once I watched the entire movie as both of them are really good here. Katharine Hepburn is expectedly good and endearing, but it is Henry Fonda who gave the better performance here as he really shined in the second half. And Jane Fonda was also really good as their daughter.

On Golden Pond has some really good technical aspects with the score in particular being quite solid and often moving. The scenery is of course beautiful to look at and the film is very well shot, solidly directed and mostly solidly paced. The first act was somewhat boring when compared to the rest of the movie, but this was for the most part an involving drama and I did not expect that at all, but it surprised me. The tone is too emotional at times as it really tends to go into overly maudlin territory. But that was expected given its subject matter.

However, the humor in On Golden Pond is pretty good and there were some really fantastic lines here. And it is romantic with the relationship at the core of the film being so charming. The dialogue is mostly very good and very realistic which is great. The whole movie benefits from a sense of realism and that is its greatest achievement. And it does have its heart, albeit having too much of it at times.

On Golden Pond was a critically acclaimed movie at the time of its release and received ten Oscar nominations and three wins. The Best Adapted Screenplay win wasn’t deserved, but the wins for Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn are satisfying. As for the other nominations, it did not deserve most of those, but the nod for score is highly deserved as it is really good and one of the highlights here. It is overall a pretty good, but definitely a flawed movie.

On Golden Pond is typical and often goes into overly maudlin territory, but it is still surprisingly involving and quite charming with a great score, excellent scenery, a great sense of realism, some moving moments and strong performances from Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn.

My Rating – 4

Posted in 1980s, 1981, Drama, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , .

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