It has been nearly 50 years since Mrs. Robinson seduced poor Ben Braddock in The Graduate, giving us the classic movie image of Anne Bancroft’s stockinged leg, stretching out as a young Dustin Hoffman looks on. That film, from long before Robert Schwartzman was born, immediately comes to mind with his directorial debut, Dreamland, which at times feels like a millennial update to the 1967 classic — and which includes a role for his proud mom, Talia Shire (The Godfather, Rocky).
In this bittersweet coming-of-age story, which Schwartzman co-wrote, Johnny Simmons (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) stars as Monty Fagan, a sincere, struggling musician who lives in Los Angeles with his sexually bored girlfriend (Frankie Shaw)…and her mom (Beverly D’Angelo). A piano teacher by day, Monty dreams about opening up a piano bar — a fantasy that seems a little more possible when he gets a gig playing at a posh hotel and meets Olivia (Transparent’s Amy Landecker), a sexy, sophisticated older woman who urges him to stop teaching kids Chopsticks and start pursuing his passion full time.As a diversion from her own life and marriage, she becomes his lover and benefactor, offering him a new wardrobe and money to support his dream. But her gifts come at a high cost. “A kept boy kept by a kept woman is really what it is,” says Shire, who plays Monty’s mother.
Robert’s brother, Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore), also has a role in the movie as a loan officer. “No way was I ever pushing [film] as a profession on any of my children. I thought we’d have doctors and lawyers,” says the Oscar-nominated actress, who played Connie Corleone in The Godfather films (directed by her older brother, Francis Ford Coppola) and Adrian Balboa in the Rocky series.
While she’s careful to point out that she never was a stage mom, clearly she’s kvelling like only a mother could. Robert, in addition to co-writing the film, also scored it; the synthy soundtrack features several original pieces by his band Rooney. “He did this all on his own; that is, away from family. Not bad, huh?” she says. “Robert is only 33, but listen, you need to know this: By the time he was 6, he was already telling me what to do and where to stand and how to play it.
“They’re fine men,” she says of her boys, “and they have a wonderful inner female that’s creative and sings and dances. I mean, that’s all you can ask for. What can I tell you? I’m proud. I’m just so proud.”
Watch a trailer for ‘The Graduate’: