After hearing about the death of Jill Clayburgh last week, I decided to see Starting Over again. What a difference 30 years or so makes! I think I last saw the movie in 1980. I couldn’t remember it very well (though I do distinctly remember Burt Reynolds taking the Polaroids of Jill Clayburgh in the shower and Candice Bergen singing). 

I liked the movie back then, but I watched it last night with totally different eyes. It’s amazing how I can now identify with the Burt Reynolds and Jill Clayburgh characters: flawed but sympathetic people navigating the seas of romance.

Back then I thought Reynold’s antics were charming, now I see them as a way to cope with the anguish of being abandoned.  I’m sure I thought Clayburgh’s character was strange and annoying, now I see her as vulnerable and true.

This is a very good movie with numerous scenes that are funny and touching. In an industry flooded with banal romantic-comedies, this movie still holds up. Jill Clayburgh is wonderful. She effectively creates a tender, quirky and realistic character; one who is slightly damaged and whom the audience can root for. Candice Bergen steals the show as a tone deaf character who sings, but has no idea how wretched she is. And then there is Burt Reynolds. In my opinion, this is his best performance. It’s an understated performance that hits the mark in every scene. This is a slow paced film: no action, no dazzling special effects, and no 20-something gorgeous looking actors.