Same Time, Next Year (1978)
Robert Mulligan has a tender and somewhat discreet approach in his direction, always staying on the safe side and never letting neither his images nor his storytelling becoming overly sexualized. Still, he manages with Same Time, Next Year to discuss in detail how the times in the latter part of the 20th century went from rigid through liberal and to individual - both when it comes to sex, social conventions, gender equality and the political situation in general.
The simplicity of the play, brilliantly chiselled out by Bernard Slade, is also its genius, as we get to know Alda and Burstyn, both more or less happily married to their separate spouses, who meet up the same weekend for 26 years straight. What may come off as somewhat contrived at first glance, gradually grows on us as we get to know our two protagonists, and through them their families and their country. The stagy nature of the piece, deploying practically only one set, might seem like something of a confinement, but this is not the case. On the contrary, Mulligan makes the world around come alive through the two people inside the little cottage by the ocean. It's amazing how, as George and Doris, we start caring for people we've never met. We grow together with our two lovers; we live and breathe their personal development, while at the same time becoming progressively more moved by their deep but restricted affair. Burstyn transforms a naïve, unknowing girl into a mature, self-assured woman and Alda, who starts off as what seems like a young Hawkeye eventually elevates his performance to arguably his very finest. It's a special little piece that hasn't gotten the mention it deserves.