That Cold Day in the Park (1969)

That Cold Day in the Park (1969), directed by Robert Altman.

A wealthy woman in a nice Vancouver apartment building hosts a luncheon for her friends, all older than herself. She sees a young man in the park who seems to be living on a bench that day. Homeless? After lunch when her friends are gone it starts raining and she goes to the park and invites him up. In a nice contrast, she who had been served by the help that day puts on an apron and serves him.

He is a bit odd and feigns being mute for the first 39 minutes. He doesn't speak directly to her until 1h25m. Little does she know that he has a life elsewhere and is playing a game with her. Careful with those magic brownies he brings back.

We don't at first suspect a sexual interest on her part, not when she's just buying him new clothes, but she tries locking him in (not that it does any good) and visits a doctor for birth control. Knowing more about the young man than she, we begin to worry about her. We should worry for them both. Tender traps can be the most perilous.

I'd never heard of this until it appeared on Blu-ray. The story is more straightforward than some of Altman's other work, but still mysterious as to the genre: is this a slow-boil thriller or not? That is definitely decided in the last 10 minutes when the pot finally does boil over in a harrowing finale.

Sandy Dennis gives a fine performance, the picture of loneliness. She is supposed to be an "older woman" but is only 32, which is fine: she always seemed to be of an indeterminate age. Among adults, no ten-year gap is as large as from 20 to 30, especially in the youth-worshiping 1960s.

Brief nudity and, for the historical record: some passion sounds.

Johnny Mandel score. Photographed by László Kovács.

I've said before that I'm not much of an Altman fan, but I liked this one.

On Blu-ray from Olive Films. No subtitles.