Run time: 113 mins
In the third of his seven films with Robert Redford, Sydney Pollack paired his star with a first-billed Barbra Streisand and treated audiences to the pair fighting through the mid-20th century.
Hubbell (Redford, essentially auditioning for Gatsby) and Katie (Streisand) meet in the late ’30s as undergraduates. She’s a serious-minded activist who always works her hardest; he’s a golden boy and aspiring writer to whom things come easily. Their chance initial encounters offer glimpses of a life without their own kind, and these early moments already have a bittersweet tinge.
Defying (some of) the trappings of decades-spanning romantic melodrama, The Way We Were doesn’t shy away from the messiness of what amounts to a very protracted breakup. Pollack’s film still manages to function as a glossy rebuke to the Hollywood standard of the unlikely romance: He’s a Protestant! She’s Jewish! And… hey, actually, their differences result in a fundamental gulf that they may not be able to bridge! For a screen romance with huge movie stars, that sentiment feels pretty real. And, of course, that song!