Curious that Erich Segal keeps using the word "story" to describe his little efforts. "Love Story" had the minimum amount of story to it: He's rich, she's poor, they marry, she dies. "Oliver's Story," the sequel, has even less: She having died, he tries to pull himself together.
This is not a story. In the film version, nothing happens. The point of it seems to be that Oliver doesn't feel up to doing anything, and this is dramatically borne out by an hour and a half of his doing almost nothing. To work around this lack, most of the filming time is devoted to what would be quick transitional sequences in an ordinary movie - half a dozen long scences in which Oliver is driving a car, scene after scene showing him walking down corridors and opening doors, silences in which he lies on his bed or chews his food or shaves. There are very few words in this film.
The presumption in "Oliver's Story" seems to be that the bathos of "Love Story" was sucessful enough to carry through its sequel without advancing the situation or the character. As the first film ended with the death of Oliver's wife, the second opens with her funeral. Oliver, whom Ryan O'Neal is still playing with knitted brows and windblown hair, stands around the graveyard and then sits on a stone while the casket is lowered.
For the rest of the first hour, the wordless scenes are only occasionally interrupted by Oliver's being given permission by other characters - his father-in-law, his psychiatrist, his ex-roommate - to end his mourning. It seems to be accepted that the only proof of this would be his forming a new sexual attachment. He meets two eligible women, Nicola Pagett and Candice Bergen, but can't accept either as a replacement.
Rejecting the Bergen character takes up the center part of the film and provides, for the half-hour, a funeral for the only other idea in "Love Story," which was the burden of being rich. This woman, whom our hero picks up in the park, turns out to be Ms. Bonwit of the Bonwit Teller department store. One would think them as ideal couple, as the only two people in the world who truly how terrible it is to be young, handsome, independent, aristocratic, rich and successful.
The one spark of happiness is when she admits to having been "the only rich kid in my crowd - I spent my life pretending to be poor," and he is sufficiently moved by empathy to take her across the street to a motel. Why this bond is not enough is not clear, but it's doomed from the time that he asserts that eating with matched silverware is not important in his scale of values. And while it seems that the Hong Kong factory she owns provides better working conditions than the factory he owns, he nevertheless decides to throw her over and toss in his lot with his inheritance and his father, who is still being played by Ray Milland as if he had been so racked with heart attacks that hs is afraid of sneezing.
At the end - there's no danger of spoiling anyone's suspense by saying this, as this picture is scrupulous about providing no suspense - Oliver looks out on the Charles River, which may or may not have the ghost of Jenny rowing on it, and promises that now, indeed, he will put himself together.
And we'll just have to wait for the next story to find out how he does it.
OLVER'S STORY - AMC Academy, K-B Crystal, K-B Fine Arts, K-B Georgetown Square, K-B Silver, Loehman's Plaza and Springfield Cinema. CAPTION: Picture, RYAN O'NEAL IN A SCENE FROM "OLIVER'S STORY."