blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Four Seasons (1981, Alan Alda)

I didn’t read anything about The Four Seasons before watching it–I didn’t even know it was Carol Burnett in a dramatic role (she’s fantastic)–and if I had, maybe I would have had some idea where Alda was taking the film. Because he doesn’t take it where I was expecting, not from the narrative’s apparent intentions.

The film’s broken up over four parts–vacations or getaways, one per season–something else I wasn’t aware of (the title actually just made me wonder if there were four couples)–and the last one has some real problems. The most significant of its problems–besides Rita Moreno’s character’s unexpected and out-of-character silence–is Alda’s refusal to follow-up on the previous season’s events and revelations. At one point, it even comes up in dialogue… only for everyone to dismiss the idea.

It makes the film, full of heavy dramatic potential, into something warm and fuzzy. Affable. It’s unfortunate.

It’s still good, just not as fantastic as it could have been.

Alda’s direction is excellent. He does quiet still shots very well, but then he’ll bring in these frantically edited little dialogue sequences (a soccer game, skiing) set to Vivaldi and it’s clear he knows how to direct movement too.

The cast is great–besides Alda (who only falters in the third act) and Burnett, Rita Moreno, Jack Weston and Bess Armstrong really stand out. It’s a shock Armstrong’s career was so short-lived, based on this one.

A fine picture.

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