I consider myself to be a romantic. I often find myself far more emotionally invested in many of the fictional romances I see on television, books, or movies than I do with my rather non-existent dating life. I was probably more excited when Pam and Jim kissed for the first time on The Office than I was about finally getting my first kiss a month after I graduated from high school. So, a movie spanning a decade about the romance between two people from the opposite end of the political and social spectrum seemed like a sure winner for me. The Way We Were had politics, romance, and even a little social commentary, not to mention Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand at their primes, but unfortunately, it was incredibly slow and boring and with the exception of the chemistry between its leads, there was really nothing keeping me involved in this film, besides wondering what I would say for this review.

The Way We Were is the love story of Katie Marofsky (Barbra Streisand) and Hubbel Gardner (Robert Redford). Katie is the President of the Young Communist League at her college and is pretty much a proto/archetypal liberal activist. She cares about everything and is ferocious in her beliefs. Hubbel is more of a pretty, golden boy who is a talented writer but joins the Navy after he graduates from school. Later in life, Katie and Hubbel meet up, fall in love, and marry yet their marriage is fraught with the tension between Katie’s fierce convictions and Hubbel’s desire to remain employed in the face of the McCarthy era witch hunts.

With the exception of Meet the Fockers, I had never seen a Barbra Streisand picture and all I knew of her was that she had a reputation for being a bit of a diva. Well, her personality aside, I finally understand what the big deal with Babs is. She’s breathtaking. She didn’t age all that well, but when she was younger, she was just a knock-out. Not to mention, she’s an incredibly talented actress. The sizzling chemistry between her and Redford was probably the only thing this movie had going for it. It’s easy to remember why Robert Redford is one of cinema’s most beloved leading men and why he dominated the 1970’s. However, it was pretty hilarious watching him try to play a college student in the early scenes when he was in his late 30’s when this film was made.

This was one of those movies that I really wanted to like, but it really just wasn’t that good. I’ll take it’s surreal 2000 successor Waking the Dead any day. If you’re a Babs fan, I’d recommend this film but I can fairly well assume that you’ve already seen it. If you’re a Robert Redford fan, perhaps you should watch it, but I would just as easily say to leave this one alone and stick with his better pictures like All the President’s Men or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Otherwise, everybody else can go ahead and steer clear of this one.

Final Score: C+

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