Parents' Guide to

The Way We Were

By Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Starry romance has problematic terms, drinking, smoking.

Movie PG 1973 118 minutes
The Way We Were movie poster: Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford embrace.

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Scored by Streisand's famous song of the same name, and often swaying into soft-focus and fade-outs, this is a romance for those who aren't easily put off by sentimentality and melodrama. What maintains The Way We Were through its potential cringes is the realism of the romantic arc and the believable chemistry between the two leads -- equal passion and frustration, at times a perfect romance and others a doomed affair. As Katie, Streisand's political passion borders on exhausting next to Hubbell's (Redford) laid-back aloofness. Yet it's her energy in the most part that keeps the plot moving through its nearly two-hour runtime. As viewers we start to feel the same mix of awe and exasperation toward Katie that Hubbell seems to. She's a force to be reckoned with, a woman that won't "behave," but it comes at a price for the relationships around her. Her moments of emotional vulnerability (of which there are many), can feel jarring alongside this powerhouse -- there's little in between -- and while politics is regularly discussed, it seems of comparatively little significance in the background of the plot. The film is schmaltzy in places for sure, and that's what is often remembered. But despite some cliches it's refreshing in its overall attempt not to romanticize romance. It lays it bare as a living, breathing creature of its own that can as easily engulf you in warmth as spit you out broken.

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