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Redford and Fonda still have the romantic magic in ‘Our Souls at Night’

Review • Chemistry still strong, decades later, in this story of small-town neighbors starting a late-in-life relationship.

(Lucian Capellaro | courtesy Netflix) Louis (Robert Redford, left) and Addie (Jane Fonda) discover a late-blooming romance in the romantic drama "Our Souls At Night." The movie debuts Friday, Sept. 29, on Netflix.

Robert Redford is 81, and Jane Fonda is 79 — and in the drama “Our Souls at Night,” a gentle tale of romance and regrets, the sparks that flew between them a half-century ago are still burning.

In a small town in Colorado, Addie Moore (Fonda) and Louis Waters (Redford) have been neighbors for decades but don’t really know each other. That’s why it strikes Louis, a widower, as odd when Addie, a widow, comes over one evening with a matter-of-fact request: “Would you be interested in coming over to my house sometime and sleeping with me?”

It’s not about sex, Addie adds — “I lost interest in that a long time ago,” she says. Rather, it’s about companionship, having someone to talk to and “getting through the night.” Louis thinks it over and agrees.

The first time is a little awkward, but after a while, a routine is established. Louis comes over, they have a drink, they talk and then they get into bed and go to sleep.

Naturally, the talk turns to their pasts. Louis, a retired teacher, talks about the time 40 years earlier when he left his now-deceased wife, Diane, for an affair with a married colleague. Addie recounts the pain when her young daughter, Connie, was hit by a car and killed, casting a pall on her marriage.

Soon, the old men who gossip in the coffee shop (led by Bruce Dern) get wind of Addie and Louis. So does Addie’s son, Gene (Matthias Schoenaerts), who’s dealing with losing his job and his wife, and asks Addie to take his 7-year-old son, Jamie (Iain Armitage, from “Young Sheldon”), for a while. Later on, Louis’ 40ish daughter, Holly (Judy Greer), still processing the pain of his long-ago affair, stops by to visit.

Adapting the late Kent Haruf’s novel, the screenwriting team of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (“The Fault in Our Stars”) doesn’t place too many artificial obstacles between Addie and Louis. Their baggage, their apprehension about starting a new relationship and their knowledge that there isn’t time to waste are enough, and them overcoming those issues is what propels the story.

Indian-born director Ritesh Batra (“The Lunchbox,” “The Sense of an Ending”) doesn’t blow up the proportions of this simple story, and its emotions, like its landscapes, are a good fit for Netflix and a home-viewing experience.

Mostly, Batra lets the well-worked chemistry Redford and Fonda share do the heavy lifting. The stars have made three movies together before this: as an escaped convict and his unfaithful wife in “The Chase” (1966), as an uptight lawyer and his free-spirit bride in “Barefoot in the Park” (1967), and as a broken-down rodeo star and a sassy journalist in “The Electric Horseman” (1979) — and in “Our Souls at Night,” they still bring out in each other a warmth and an easygoing manner, as if they’ve always been and always will be like this.

* * * 1/2<br>’Our Souls at Night’<br>Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, as small-town neighbors meeting up late in life, still can set off the fireworks in this romance.<br>Where • Streaming on Netflix.<br>When • Debuts Friday, Sept. 29.<br>Rating • Not rated, but probably PG-13 for language and some sexual content.<br>Running time • 103 minutes.

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