- Movie Rating -

Oliver’s Story (1978)

| December 15, 1978

[written March 10, 2009]

Here’s a confession with, I suppose, some meat on it: I didn’t like Love Story.  I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t appeal to me.  Maybe it was the fact that I dislike melodramatic soap operas.  Maybe it was my cynical state of mind.  Maybe it was my personal dislike for Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal.  Maybe I was just having a bad day.  Either way, I wasn’t a fan, but apparently millions of moviegoers loved it to the tune of something like $100,000,000 domestically at a time when movies didn’t usually reach those kinds of numbers.

Well, given the profits, one could assure that a sequel might have been inevitable, even at a moment when sequels weren’t really a thing.  Yet, Oliver’s Story seems concocted rather than written, particularly since Ali McGraw’s Jenny died of leukemia in the first film which leaves this movie with a quandary.  What exactly would it be about?  Would it catch up with Oliver Barrett IV seven years later just moping around and wallowing in his grief?  Well . . . yes.  Actually, that’s exactly what the movie is about.

It has been a sufficient amount of time for Oliver to move on with his life, pick up the pieces and find a place of comfort for his pain, but the movie leaves him on the verge of tears at every single moment even though everyone in the movie is practically screaming at him to let it go and live his life.

As you might imagine, the story pretty thin.  Oliver stews in grief while his father (Ray Milland) tries to get him involved in the family textile business despite the fact that his son makes a decent living as an attorney (his work eases the pain, you see).  The hopeful spark for Oliver’s emotional salvation comes in the form of Marcie Bonwit (Candice Bergen) who tries to romance Oliver and hopefully sew up his (long-overdue) wounded heart.  The meat of their relationship (what there is of it) relies heavily on the fact that she comes from money, and he feels bad about coming from money.

The relationship here is pasted together with spit and a promise.  Oliver and Marcie try have a go at love, and even take a trip to Hong Kong but the screenplay won’t let them just be people.  Oliver is too busy wallowing in grief, and Marcie is too busy trying to help him through it.  Added to that, the plot keeps getting in the way and instead of watching two over-privileged white people fall in love, we spend a lot of time watching two over-privileged white people maneuver a lot of story elements that the movie doesn’t really need.  The basic thread here is: Oliver, get over it and move on.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1978) View IMDB Filed in: Drama