Released in 1991, Once Around is the story of thirty-something Bostonian, Renata, (Holly Hunter) whose just been dumped. In an attempt to start over, she attends a seminar on selling real estate and meets much older, rich, super salesman Sam Sharpe (Richard Dreyfuss). They are immediately smitten and their whirlwind romance and marriage is Renata’s “goddamn adventure.” However, Sam and his bigger-than-life approach to everything create an enormous strain on her relationship with her family.
I first saw the movie years ago, and it still hurts me to watch. Sam and Renata are so in love, and they could live happily in a world of their own if Renata were able to ignore the judgments of her family. The father, specifically, (Danny Aiello) has a difficult time with Sam’s personality and behavior, but at one time or another Sam grates on every one of her relatives.
I’ve adored Richard Dreyfuss since The Goodbye Girl, and he and Holly Hunter paired together in Always sealed the deal–I love and believe them whenever they are together. Danny Aiello is magnificent as the father, and Gena Rowlands (Renata’s mother) may be the most believable mother character in Hollywood.
Every time I watch it, I dream of how it could end differently, but I know in my heart the journey of Renata’s life with Sam and her family is beautiful, painful, heart-wrenching and ultimately satisfying–the way a story about love and family will always be if it reflects reality.