Starting OverClosed Captioning
Alan J. Pakula
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Scripted by James L. Brooks from Dan Wakefield's novel, Alan J. Pakula's romantic comedy follows the tribulations of a freshly divorced man as he looks for love with a wary single woman. Phil Potter (Burt Reynolds) can't quite believe it when his aspiring songbird wife Jessica (Candice Bergen) kicks him out to realize her career dreams, but the added revelation of her adultery speeds him out the door by choice. Relocating to Boston, Phil starts to settle in with the help of his psychiatrist brother Mickey (Charles Durning), joining a divorced men's therapy group. Phil really begins to feel better when Mickey and his wife Marva (Frances Sternhagen) set him up with her friend Marilyn (Jill Clayburgh), a preschool teacher who has had her share of grief from newly single men. Phil wins her over and even convinces her to move in, but an unexpected visit from a regretful, saucily clad Jessica, and an anxiety attack over buying a couch, threaten to end Phil's new life with Marilyn before it has a chance to start. Starting Over offers a ruefully comic look at how the decade's rising divorce rate did not mean fun and games for all the new bachelors; Brooks' movie debut after a sparkling career in 1970s TV with The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi, it was also proof that top '70s star Reynolds could be more than just a good 'ol boy. Still, while the three leads were all praised for their work, only Clayburgh and Bergen received Oscar nominations. Starting Over's humorous yet down-to-earth view of single life and its discontents reassured unattached thirtysomethings that, even though it may not be easy, everything could still turn out fine in modern romance.
Burt Reynold's performance should have won him an Academy Award
James L Brook wrote, and Allan Pakula directed Burt Reynolds in his most understated, compelling performanc ever. I have watched this film several times just to pick up on the nuances of his (and the rest of the cast's) performance. That thing were you see an actor play a role they were born for? This is Reynolds.
Every member of the cast, Candice Bergen, Jill Clayburgh, Charles Durning, etc, have standout moments, making the most of the great writing- the ensemble work they do is better study than going to acting school. Last, if you have ever been through divorce, you will relate to so many of the scenes, this film captures the twilight zone of being newly divorced perfectly.