The Four Seasons
The Four Seasons
1981. Directed by Alan Alda.
The Four Seasons examines a year in the life of four couples. The film is broken in to four acts, in which each season the couples take a vacation. The film chooses to abandon any sort of flair and focus solely on the interactions of the couples, both as a group, and in the privacy of the bedroom.
Alan Alda's script is absolutely amazing. Filled with instantly quotable quips and heartfelt emotional examinations of the cycles of relationships. The main point of contention is when one of the men divorces his wife and shows up for the next vacation with a much younger women, thus triggering jealousy, rivalry, and ultimately love and forgiveness within the group.
The cast is phenomenal. Carol Burnette brings her usual scene stealing wit while Alan Alda provides a solid turn as the group's armchair therapist, much to the chagrin of the others. Jack Weston is hilarious as the hypochondriac who constantly feels death around every corner. Rita Moreno is the scene stealer as Claudia, the Italian firebrand who calls it like it is.
One of the film's best sequences takes place in the final act, in which the couples decide to go out for drinks at a local dive. Aside from the hilarious local musicians, the scene balances emotional extremes with impressive finesse. In one breath, you're confronted with the reality that we're not getting any younger and the next you're pleasantly reminded of the power of love and friendship. It's professional comedy not often replicated in modern cinema.
The soundtrack features Vivaldi (of course) and it is comfortably in line with the events as they transpire. Victor Kemper's cinematography is unusual for an intimate comedy, as he manages to depict the beauty of the surroundings and the human emotions on display without fancy trickery or extreme close ups.
One of the most genuine and smile inducing films of the 80's, The Four Seasons was a critical and commercial success. This was a natural response to the film's unassuming manner in which is dissects the highs and lows of marriage with the utmost charm and respect.
The next time you're feeling like a comedy, give this one a try. It lacks some of the down right nasty humor of today's comedic offerings and instead embraces all the faults and triumphs that make us human. It's not complex or deep, it's just a great story that is instantly likable and relatable, regardless of your relationship status.
Available now on DVD via Amazon.