“Sam & Kate” cast from left are Dustin Hoffman, Jake Hoffman, Schuyler Fisk and Sissy Spacek. Vertical Entertainment photo

Isn’t it nice, enjoying a soft, moving duo love story, without servings of the gratuitous mingling of bodies under soft percale sheets.

Here in “Sam & Kate,” we savor a piece of cake with cracks of flawed icing giving us two veterans of movie history, the great Dustin Hoffman and still sparkling Sissy Spacek embracing one another in studio moonlight, while still delivering deeply carved performances.

Greet Dustin Hoffman, the once upon a time college graduate Ben Braddock and the Savant syndrome suffering brother in “Rain Man,” now grown into a delightfully grouchy senior citizen, long retired combat veteran Bill.

Hug Sissy Spacek, the haunted, tortured “Carrie,” the singing “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” now gently holding Hoffman’s Braddock in a kiss.

In Darren Le Gallo’s gentle “Sam & Kate,” they not only share the screen, but bring along their kids, their real kids, Dustin’s son Jake Hoffman and Sissy’s daughter Schuyler Fisk, in a tale of two young adults dealing with the planetwide problem of parents and kids, who hear different music, follow different political and social paths, and are being forced to find a common lyric they can all sing together.

After an uncomfortable Sunday in church, the foursome’s meeting is kind of cute when Tina’s (Spacek) ancient car needs fixing, and Bill, eager to help, snaps it alive.


Later that week, Sam (Jake Hoffman), out of college and struggling with the stumbling moves of an inchoate artist who spends his working hours picking bruised chocolate candies off a Lucy Ricardo conveyer belt, sees Kate (Fisk) in the window of the bookstore she owns, and like a beached sailor, is gobsmacked.

Sam really has his father’s nose, but his deceased mother’s soft heart and certainly none of his father’s old guy street smarts.

He seems, for his age, way too awkward in his come-ons, and makes a shaky move on sweet and mature Kate.

We live with the a fragile plot that’s thin with long wordy get togethers, that makes us wait a few minutes too long for the good news finale we’re all yearning for. We all do that in life.

Following too closely to the film school manual, Le Gallo, in his debut effort,  jostles us out of our sweet and soft expectations for a small town soft landing, with real life potholes and one life that’s teetering on the edge.

If you’re an old film fan, you might sense a little bit of those lovable Andy Hardy stories, but with Frank Capra’s sad shadows hovering around the corner.


You initially want to hug “Sam & Kate” like those kids in Andy Hardy’s films, ignore Capra and go to bed happy, but Le Gallo’s too new age for that.

Capra knew that at least one heart has to be broken and others will mend.

“Sam & Kate” ain’t “Casablanca,” but your heart will love it.

“Sam & Kate” streams on Hulu.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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