Watch Tell Me a Riddle
- 1 hr 33 min
Tell Me a Riddle is a poignant family drama released in 1980, which explores the themes of aging, marital discontent, and reconciliation. The film is based on the novella of the same name by Tillie Olsen, which was published in 1961. It is sensitively directed by Lee Grant, who also worked on the screenplay along with Tillie Olsen. The story revolves around a couple, David (Melvyn Douglas) and Eva (Lila Kedrova), who have been married for over fifty years. They live in a small apartment in Chicago, which David takes pride in maintaining beautifully. However, their marriage has soured over the years, and David has grown frustrated with Eva's nagging and pessimism. Eva, on the other hand, is disillusioned with David's lack of emotional intimacy and his detachment from their family.
The couple's fragile peace is shattered when Eva falls ill and is hospitalized. Her diagnosis reveals a serious heart condition that could be fatal. At the hospital, Eva connects with her granddaughters Jeannie (Brooke Adams) and Karen (Laurie Heineman), whom she hasn't seen in years. Jeannie has been married for ten years and is pregnant with her first child. Karen is a free-spirited artist who struggles to connect with her family.
As Eva's condition worsens, David and Eva's children - Burt (Jackie Cooper) and Marian (Kathryn Grody) - arrive to be by their mother's side. They try to reconcile their parents and bring them closer together. But things don't go as planned, and old wounds are reopened. David and Eva are forced to face the truth about their past and the decisions they made that led them to this point.
Melvyn Douglas gives a powerful performance as David, a man who is torn between his love for his wife and his frustration with her. He portrays David's vulnerability and suppressed emotions with subtlety and nuance. Lila Kedrova is equally impressive as Eva, a woman who has endured a lifetime of struggle and hardship. She captures Eva's pride and resilience in the face of adversity, as well as her fear and regret.
Brooke Adams delivers a standout performance as Jeannie, the granddaughter who wants to connect with her family but struggles with her own insecurities. She portrays Jeannie's vulnerability and determination with honest emotion. Laurie Heineman brings an understated charm to the role of Karen, the artistic granddaughter who feels alienated from her family.
The film's direction and cinematography by Russell Metty create an intimate and realistic atmosphere. The scenes in the hospital, where Eva is confined to her bed, are particularly well done. The camera captures the tight, claustrophobic quarters of the hospital room, as well as the fleeting moments of tenderness between Eva and her family.
Tell Me a Riddle is a moving portrayal of a family in crisis, and it offers a glimpse into the challenges faced by aging couples. The film is a thoughtful reflection on the complexity of human relationships and the power of forgiveness. It is a must-see for fans of family dramas and vintage cinema.
Tell Me a Riddle is a 1980 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 33 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.3.