Schütte’s film makes an interesting companion piece to last year’s art-house hit Starting Out in the Evening, in which Frank Langella played another Jewish literary lion enduring the indignities of senescence. But unlike Langella’s Leonard Schiller, Otto Tausig’s Max Kohn doesn’t appear to have a problem with writer’s block or finding a date. Austrian émigré Max keeps himself busy writing short stories on his trusty old typewriter and fending off — and occasionally succumbing — to the advances of a series of predatory women. All this despite being involved in a 12-year relationship with the long-suffering Reisel (Rhea Perlman).
The movie’s jumping-off point is the trip Max takes to deliver a lecture (“Faith and Free Will in Modern Literature”) at a New Hampshire college. En route, Max falls asleep on the train and dreams he’s the lead character in his latest story. Widowed Miami tourist Simon (Tausig again) has a series of bizarrely elliptical adventures, many of which involve the opposite sex. Once Max arrives on campus, he’s immediately seduced by modern Hebrew literature professor — and former student — Rosalie Kaddish (Barbara Hershey, still beautiful after all these years). “There are no happy endings in the real world, are there?” responds Max when someone asks why the endings of his stories are so depressing. Schütte wisely ignores his protagonist’s dyspeptic worldview, delivering a bittersweet capper as delicately absurd as it is lovely.
Love Comes Lately
Cleveland Museum of Art.
At 7 p.m. Friday, December 19
and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, December 21