After suffering from a bout of writer’s block, playwright Richard Collier travels to the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, hoping to refresh and recharge his inspiration. While there, he sees a photograph of a beautiful woman named Elise McKenna, a stage actress from the 20th century. When Richard realizes it was Elise who gave him a pocket watch after a stage production years earlier, he becomes more intrigued by her, to the point of obsession. He discovers a way to travel in time through self-hypnosis and Richard finally finds himself in 1912, where he meets Elise.
Somewhere in Time does its best to hit on every note needed to make the love story a grand one. Besides the attractive leads, the setting of Mackinac Island as a backdrop to Richard and Elise’s story is as romantic and gorgeous as the score. Strong conflict only makes the audience root harder for the maligned couple, and there is plenty of conflict to be had for Richard and Elise. The most obvious being that Richard is from another time period altogether, but that’s not all that threatens to keep the two lovebirds apart. Elise’s manager, a cranky Christopher Plummer, is desperate to keep them apart as well, for Elise’s own good, of course.
This is a love story that spans time and all sense of rational thinking. It would make no sense for me to easily accept the time travel in say, Avengers End Game, or Groundhog Day, and then poo-poo the idea of self-hypnosis time travel for a man in love with a woman he doesn’t know. And I admit that the idea of time travel through self-hypnosis could be an intriguing one but in Somewhere in Time it just feels forced in an attempt to over-explain the concept. I don’t really need a bunch of the science behind it, I just want to watch it happen and enjoy what happens next. Thankfully, Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour are perfectly cast and exude the right amount of chemistry to make a somewhat ludicrous plot tolerable.
In a purely romantic sense, Somewhere in Time is a fine movie. It’s a premise that feels fresh enough compared to what else was being released in late ’70s. There were some moments that I felt dragged a little and I was a bit put off by Richard’s aggressive pursuit of Elise in the beginning… though I suppose he gets a pass if he literally traveled through time to find her. The best part of the film for me were the leads. I’ve always loved Jane Seymour and while I generally knew Reeves from Superman, it was a nice change to see him in a period piece to show he has acting ability beyond the man of steel. Ultimately, I can see why Somewhere in Time has become a cult romance among movie fans. I don’t know if I would count it up there as one of the greatest love stories ever to hit the big screen, but it’s definitely worth a watch.