Gussie Sawyer and Henry Squires are high school sweethearts in Ocean City, Maryland, during the 1960s. Her father runs a bumper car ride at the amusement park, and his dad is editor of the town newspaper. Both young people dream of adventure in a wider world.
Gussie goes off to become an airline stewardess and then a famous photojournalist based in Paris. Her work appears in newspapers and magazines all over the world. Henry leaves town to make a mark for himself in Boston but returns to Ocean city after his father's death to run the paper; he settles into the family house with his wife Ruth and his son Addy. The greatest mark he makes on the world is through editorials against those who want to bring jobs at any cost to the community.
Now, for the first time in fifteen years, Gussie returns for a long-needed vacation with her parents. She and Henry meet, and after much uneasiness, resume their love affair. They also join forces to expose the nefarious activities of developers on an island adjacent to Ocean City. Gussie then offers Henry an opportunity to break into the big time by working with her on an overseas assignment about the children of war.
Violets Are Blue is directed by Sissy Spacek's husband Jack Fisk. He effectively dramatizes the comfortable but mundane life in a small resort town. The screenplay by Naomi Foner realistically portrays the problems that members of the baby boom generation bring upon themselves by wanting to have it all in life. Sissy Spacek's Gussie has chosen career over family but is unhappy with the emptiness of her private life. Kevin Kline's Henry has relaxed into a cozy existence but is inwardly troubled by his failure to fulfill the dreams he had of becoming a famous writer. Caught in the crossfire between these characters' yearnings for something new in their lives is Bonnie Bedelia's Ruth, a woman who knows her limits and is willing to live decently within them.
As more and more baby boomers enter middle age, filmmakers will have the opportunity to deal with the peculiar trials and challenges of their transit into this life stage. Violets Are Blue, thanks to fine performances by Spacek, Kline, and Bedelia, addresses the complex choices many people have to make as they come face to face with the dreams of their youth and the realities of middle age.