I first saw this movie as a kid. It was playing on some B-movie channel like USA or Lifetime, and it had already started when I came upon it. I was flipping channels, and I only stopped only because I noticed Alan Alda. Being a huge fan of the show M*A*S*H, I had to see what Hawkeye was up to.
I actually have very little memory of the movie itself. All I was left with was the basic premise, which is of a man and a woman who are both married, but not to each other, who meet each other every year at the same time, at the same place, for a weekend affair. The movie spans about 25 years, and the idea of lasting 25 years with the same person, other than their spouse, touched me, even as young as I was.
So, I had added it to the Poly Movie List based on my memory of a feeling, rather than actually remembering the plot. And I decided eventually that I ought to watch the movie again, just to make sure it really deserved to be included on that list. And after re-watching it, y'know what? I'm not really sure.
We first meet George and Doris on the night that they meet each other. George is an accountant with a client in the area, and Doris is a housewife whose in-laws hate her, so she comes up to a nearby convent / retreat every year on this weekend to avoid them. The two find themselves drawn to each other in the restaurant of the bed & breakfast where George is staying and they spend the evening gazing into each other's eyes and talking deeply to each other. The next morning, they wake up to discover that they've had an affair.
Normally, cheating spouses is a pretty good guarantee of a movie getting itself banned from the Poly Movie List. But this one was a little different. George and Doris are not unhappy at home and looking to replace their respective spouses. They each love their respective spouses and have happy lives with them. It's just that they are so drawn to each other, but their affair does not change the love they have for their spouses, and they agonize over the duplicity throughout the entire movie.
[inserted movie clip about agonizing over cheating]
Also, this movie is different from most cheating movies because it's not a one-time thing, or over a short span of time. Their affair lasts for the bulk of their adult lives. They grow old together, and their affair deepens to a true love of each other. Yes, it's true, they do not tell their spouses, and that deceitfulness is what makes me waver on whether or not to keep this movie on the list. But George and Doris not only love each other, they grow to be fond of each other's families and spouses too, even though they have never met them.
George and Doris play a game, where they each tell one story that paints their spouses in a negative light, and then another story that paints them in a positive light. [inserted movie clip with some examples of telling the two stories] These scenes are so touching, as they live vicariously through each other's stories and get to know each other's spouses from afar. We see them live through each other's pain and anguish, and we see them grow through each other's joys. We see George and Doris each take different life paths and learn how to grow back together.
And now, 2 small spoilers, but not the end of the film.
There are 2 particular scenes that make me hesitate to strike this movie from the list. In one of them, Doris confides that her husband may leave her, and she is distraught. In spite of her relationship with George, she does not want to lose her relationship with her husband. Doris goes to the car to get something, and her husband calls at that moment looking for her, believing it to be the number of the room where Doris is staying at the convent.
Although this is George's chance to finally get Doris away from her husband, he doesn't. He does his best to patch up their marriage and, when given the perfect chance to reveal the nature of his relationship with Doris, he covers it up for the sake of restoring their marriage. Yes, it's a lie, and I can't overlook that. But George's intentions are to do what he thinks would make Doris happiest, not what he can get out of the situation.
[inserted movie clip of George trying to fix Doris' marriage and rejecting the opportunity to reveal the deception]
The other scene is when George reveals that his wife found out about Doris, and has known for many years. But George's wife never said a word. She kept silent and allowed George to continue his annual trips, knowing full well that another woman was waiting for him. She loved George that much. And George, upon learning of her silence to allow him his indiscretion, falls in love with his wife all over again for her strength, her courage, and her compassion. Doris, too, admires the woman.
[inserted movie clip of George telling Doris that his wife learned of their affair]
So, I think the reason why I keep wanting to keep this movie on the list, is because this is what I imagine polyamorous relationships are like when the participants don't know that an option like polyamory exists. This is the story I believe that some of us could have found ourselves in if we had lived in a time and place where open relationships were just not allowed. This is what I think happens when we are not allowed to express ourselves and our love when love is bigger than our rules.
This is a movie about 4 people, even though we only ever meet 2 of them - about the love and desire that encompass them, through presidential terms, through wars, through changing fashions and political ideals, and over the course of a quarter of a century. So you may disagree with me about whether or not this is a poly movie, and I think some very valid points can be made on that side of the debate that I can't argue with. But I'm going to keep it on the list anyway.
You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!
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