Director: Robert Mulligan
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Alan Alda, Ivan Bonar, Bernie Kuby, Cosmo Sardo
Anniversaries should be spent with the one you love… Even if you aren’t married to them
Can adultery be ok in some situations? Say you are in a relationship or even better, a marriage where the romantic part of the love has gone. Is it ok to act on your heart if it wants passion from another person than your wife or husband?
Same Time, Next Year explores this without being judgemental. Instead the makers of this film is able to deliver a funny and sweet love story about a husband and wife that are in love with each other instead of the ones they got married with.
Based on a stage play by Bernard Slade, the film tells the story of George and Doris, two young ones who meet at a dinner and shortly after decide to have a night of passion together. The day after, they both panic and confide in each other that they are in fact married. Even so… they cannot resist the idea of not seeing each other again and decide that they will meet once every year at the same cabin.
George (Alan Alda) and Doris (Ellen Burstyn) develop a very interesting and sweet relationship. They start out much alike and go through life phases that both put them further apart and yet make them even closer to each other. Their deep love for each other is displayed perfectly by the actors and it’s impossible not to root for them and overlook the fact that they are both cheating on their significant other (although it can be discussed who really is the significant other for both of them). A key scene is the one where George tells Doris that his son has died. It’s a very powerful scene and really shows how great of an actor Alan Alda can be.
Since they meet up in the same cabin each year, the film is played out in one simple location. It’s easy to have it turn boring very fast, especially since it runs for two hours. The story is told by letting us see them get together every fifth year and the story incorporates important events of the time to let us know what year we are in and what frame of mind the characters are in. It works very well, although the theme song might become irritating to some. I’m also not sure if the comedy will translate well for the modern crowd, but does that even matter when we’re talking about a movie made over 35 years ago?
It can also be argued that the film isn’t about the comedy that much in the first place. For me it has always worked more as a drama and about love and friendship. It is also a display of excellent acting (Burstyn was nominated for an Oscar for her performance), solid directing and a lot of heart. It deals with a sort of taboo subject and I’m sure it did create some controversy upon its initial release. Same Time, Next Year is something as rare as a romantic comedy that I can fully recommend, mostly to grown movie lovers.