Streisand and Redford are Katie and Hubbell, two people whose paths crossed in university when she was overwhelmed with writing and political change, making speeches praising communism, while he excelled at sports and just wanted to have a good time. But when Hubbell's writing reveals a discontent under the surface, she becomes attracted to him, and after a number of years, they kick off a romance doomed by their ideals and basic life passions.
On the one hand, it's a really interesting film to watch for how it frames these two lovers and the tribulations they face. On the other, it's a romance that doesn't take it quite far enough. Katie's drawn to communism in a time before McCarthyism, and when the Red paranoia hits -- though she's in Hollywood and has a long-standing link to communist beliefs -- she's only a side player and protester in the turmoil. It's hard not to watch the film and wonder how it would've played out if Katie and Hubbell were picked out by McCarthy and forced to deal with the challenges to their beliefs and careers directly.
Nevertheless, it does what many romances these days are two nervous to do -- let the characters be themselves without having to completely transform into new people, or come to some sort of so-called enlightenment about how their self is, in some way, "wrong." It's got a nice balance between romantic whimsy and unfortunate reality.
And hey, if you haven't seen it, you can't beat checking it out for free.
Head over to SlashControl and watch The Way We Were.