Seasons of the Heart” treads on familiar territory, but stellar performances and all the polish one expects from a Robert Halmi Jr. (“Lonesome Dove,””Return to Lonesome Dove”) production make it better than most of its genre.
Vivian Levinson (Carol Burnett) is a successful publisher who is left to raise her grandson, David (Eric Lloyd), after he is abandoned by Vivian’s drug-using daughter, Ellen (Jill Teed). At first resentful and angry and afraid of how David’s presence will affect her new marriage to longtime lover Ezra (George Segal), she ultimately rises to the occasion, and the three end up being one small happy family.
Both writer Robbyn Burger and director Lee Grant are to be commended for not making this a sentimental, tear-jerking, manipulative piece. If anything, Grant could have occasionally lightened up a bit. Where Burger’s script is less satisfactory is in the exposition of Vivian and Ezra’s complicated romantic history. It’s not germane to the story or even credible.
Both Segal and Burnett are excellent; Lloyd is affecting as the confused, lonely child. Malcolm McDowell is a joy to watch as a tortured alcoholic writer; somehow he avoids being a cliche.
Abrupt changes in camera angle are disconcerting and disruptive. Production designer Glenda Ganis did a fine job of creating both the glamour of Vivian’s home and office and the squalor of Ellen’s life.