Artfully incorporating his 2001 short “Old Love” into a longer narrative that draws on two other Isaac Bashevis Singer tales, helmer Jan Schutte’s “Love Comes Lately” focuses on an elderly writer and his stories. Ably illustrating how the author’s experiences and nightmares make their way into his fiction, pic encounters problems with the literary tone of Singer’s work, frequently rendering it as shtick. Downbeat late life subject matter — death, disease, dementia — is unlikely to work box office magic. Pic should see most love on fest circuit, tube and ancillary.
Eightyish Austrian emigre Max (Otto Tausig) continues writing short stories despite prostate problems and “permanent confusion.” The courtly gent is still something of ladies’ man, making longtime girlfriend Reisele (Rhea Perlman) crazy with jealousy.
Traveling by train to deliver his standard lecture “Faith and Free Will in Modern Literature” at a New Hampshire college, Max falls asleep while correcting his proofs. Pic then segues into story based on Singer’s “Alone.”
Vacationing solo in Miami Beach, timid Simon Danziger (also Tausig) wishes he wasn’t so afraid of women and life. Before long he gets plenty of both via pushy widow Rachel Meyerowitz (Caroline Aaron) and crazy cleaning lady Esperanza (Elizabeth Pena). Rachel’s pick up line, “If there’s anything worse than sleeping alone, it’s eating alone” becomes a repeated mantra across stories.
Following his talk, Max shares philosophical conversation and a bed with attractive former student Rosalie Kaddish (Barbara Hershey) before heading off to his next speaking engagement. Having misplaced his briefcase, he winds up at the wrong hotel and endures misadventures that inspire him to write “Old Love.”
Since he’s lost his lecture, Max reads “Old Love” instead, cueing a transition to the material filmed five years earlier as a stand-alone short. Here, lonely widower Harry (also Tausig) shares a meal with newly bereaved next-door neighbor Ethel Bercolis (Tovah Feldshuh), but their new life together doesn’t transpire as planned.
Script’s strong point is smooth way fictional stories flow in and out of the cover yarn. Schutte finds excellent visual correlatives for the blurring line between Max and his writing, and footage from 2001 feels of a piece with the rest of the film.
Charismatic octogenarian thesp Tausig, a vet of the Viennese theater, is aces as the writer and his similar yet different creations. On the distaff side, Hershey fares best at creating a well-rounded character. The other female perfs feel closer to caricature.
Atmospheric production design has fun with some deliberate anachronisms. Other tech credits are fine.