As presented on stage, A.R. Gurney's popular play features an actor and actress seated at a table, reading a series of letters that describe their lifelong relationship. In fact, during the height of its popularity back in the early 1990s, Los Angeles audiences were treated to an ever-changing cast of stars, each pair staying with the production for a week or so, then relinquishing the stage to another duo.
For this 1999 television adaptation under the direction of Stanley Donen, Gurney opens up his play somewhat. True, most of it takes place in one room, with the two principals speaking the contents of their letters to each other, but this approach, surprisingly, works very well.
Steven Weber plays a U.S. Senator who has just attended the funeral of his friend, Laura Linney. Alone in his office, he begins to read the letters that they wrote to each other over the years, and Linney's spirit appears to deliver her half of the communications, thus the scenes play as a dialogue.
The two characters had met in grade school where they immediately fell in love. However, the fact that Linney was a rebellious, free-spirited girl, while Weber was more serious and down-to-earth, kept them from consummating their romance, except for a brief affair. Both married others, yet each was the great love of the other's life.
The actors are terrific in one of the most moving films I've ever seen. I can't recommend this one too highly.
© Michael B. Druxman