Same Time, Next Year

  • Title:  Same Time, Next Year
  • Director:  Robert Mulligan
  • Date:  1978
  • Studio:  Universal
  • Genre:  Romance, Comedy, Drama
  • Cast:  Alan Alda, Ellen Burstyn
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“We had instant rapport, did you notice that too?”  — George
“No, but I know that we really hit it off.”  — Doris

“For one beautiful weekend, every year, with no cares, no ties, no responsibilities.”  — George

“I never shed a tear.  Isn’t that something?  He was my son.  I will love him. And for the life of me  – I can’t seem to cry for him.”  — George

A couple meets at a romantic sea-side inn, they share coffee, talk, then sleep together.  Both are married — to other people.  Yet, once a year, every year, they meet, catch up, sleep together, but also share their lives.  The film, based on a play, shows us the meetings of this couple every five years from 1951 to 1977 — as they grow up and experience change.  Photos of historic people and events, in montages, set to music, set the tone of the changing times, as breaks between the couple’s meetings.

One of the pleasures of the film is watching Doris grow-up — from a naive housewife, to hippy/student, to smart business woman, and back to old, retired, housewife – caring for a husband who’s had a stroke. George, meanwhile, also goes through changes — from scared, neurotic, guilt-ridden young man to Conservative stuffy accountant, to a back-to-nature bum who’s “finding himself” in men’s groups.  The changes in Doris and George’s personalities, however, are merely social dressing, like their clothes and hairstyles — they deeply love each other, even though they meet only for a single weekend a year.

It’s odd that a film about a couple’s adultery could be so enduring and bittersweet – yet it is.  Partially because in a way the film starts as a historic film, and partially because almost all the action is confined to the couple’s cabin at the Inn (or occasionally the nearby restaurant at the Inn’s main house) this film doesn’t have as much of  an out-of-date feel as many other 1970s films do.  That it was based on a play is painfully obvious from the lack of sets and small cast (the two principles, and the caretaker of the Inn), but the intimacy of the setting adds to the emphasis on character — which is turn makes this film seem less dated than it should.

Overall, George and Doris’s story, told as vignette’s over the years, lets the audience come to know and care for the characters, their problems, the changes in their lives, even their spouses, children, and jobs — all of  which we hear about but never see.  An enjoyable, soft, people-oriented film.

Recommendation:  See it!
Rating:  3.8
Next Film:  Satan Met a Lady