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Same Time, Next Year
cast: Alan Alda, Ellen Burstyn, Ivan Bonar, Bernie Kuby, and Cosmo Sardo

director: Robert Mulligan

119 minutes (15) 1978
widescreen ratio 16:9
Medium Rare / Fremantle DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
Originally a Broadway play by Bernard Slade, Same Time, Next Year tells the story of two soul mates that don't let their respective marriages get in the way of their annual consort. This movie, originally released in 1978, was a multi-Oscar nominated offering with representation in no fewer than four categories. Ultimately no Oscars were won but Ellen Burstyn did pick up a Golden Globe for her role as the leading actress.

These nominations say a lot for the movie. It is a darn good yarn and the plot is pleasantly simple. A couple meet for the first time over a chance meal at a country hotel and the relationship blossoms from there. They agree to meet at the same time, same place, every year. As the years go by, shown generally at five year intervals, housewife Doris (Burstyn) and New Jersey accountant George (Alan Alda) get older and are affected both by world events and personal traumas. They come to rely on each other as a release, companionship and stability in life. All the while the viewer gets to witness the changes happening across America during this period.

It is not your typical romantic movie. Alda is superb as George at delivering his witticisms and innuendo aplenty. However, it is Burstyn as Doris who steals the show. Her caustic wit is completely unbecoming for a lady in the 1950s from where the movie begins. Having Bernard Slade adapt his own play for the big screen kept the spirit of the original theatre piece very much alive. The movie is excellently put-together with clever use of stills and montages. Mulligan handles the intervening years between relationships well and his presentation of the lead characters, ably abetted by Alda and Burstyn, makes for a charming movie. Despite the outright conceit brought about by their annual liaison there is still something about Doris and George that makes them a compelling couple.

Very rarely does the picture leave the confines of the hotel bedroom but that is in keeping with the point of the movie. We wouldn't expect a couple who get together but once a year to be making a beeline for the outdoor adventure centre; would we?

Same Time, Next Year celebrates the 30th anniversary of its original release this year and is certainly one for the younger movie lovers out there to discover, and one for those of an older persuasion to seek out and reminisce over.

The re-issued DVD includes little in the way of extras; the original theatrical trailer being all that is included but with a running-time of two hours there is still plenty material to be enjoyed.

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