Sony // 1986 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Neal Masri (Retired) // June 9th, 2006
A World At War...Two Worlds Collide.
Remember that show Bosom Buddies? I always knew Peter Scolari would go on to big things.
An American World War II fighter pilot suffers a combat injury and has an extended stay in Jerusalem to convalesce. He meets a Jewish girl and falls in love. Her family disapproves of her seeing a man of a different culture and religion. Will their forbidden love overcome the challenges of their differences and the calamity of war?
There was a time when it was probably considered a risk to cast future double Oscar-winner Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) in a dramatic romance movie. In 1986 when Every Time We Say Goodbye was produced, he was strictly known as a sitcom and comedy movie actor. Hanks's biggest movie success up to that time had been Splash. Every Time We Say Goodbye offered Hanks in a type of role audiences had never seen him in before.
In Every Time We Say Goodbye Hanks plays David, an American RAF pilot. David joined the RAF, as many US pilots did, prior to America's entry into World War II. When he is shot down over northern Africa in 1942, David is sent to Jerusalem to recuperate. During his convalescence in Palestine (this was several years prior to the founding of Israel), David meets Sarah (Cristina Marsillach, Marrakech Express).
Sarah is a woman from a Jewish group known as Sephardim. As a brief introduction explains, these are Jews whose ancestors lived in Spain and, after expulsion from Spain in the middle ages, settled around Jerusalem and what was then Palestine. The Sephardim preserved their own customs and the Ladino language (a form of Medieval Spanish). David, however, is the gentile son of a protestant minister. Consequently, his relationship with Sarah meets with the strong disapproval of her family.
Over and above family and cultural conflict, World War II looms as a threat. David could be called back into service at any time, leaving Jerusalem forever. The couple at first acknowledges the obstacles to a relationship and agrees not to see each other (and ignores their mutual attraction). However, against the scenic backdrop of Jerusalem, they continue to run into each other and romance eventually flourishes.
The story of forbidden love thriving between two people from different worlds is older than Romeo and Juliet. It is an inherently dramatic conflict. Unfortunately, a screenplay filled with clichéd dialogue and slightly off key performances hampers that drama here. One wonders why the funny and engaging David would fall for such a mopey girl. Sarah is just downright depressing from their first meeting on. Marsillach's somnambulant delivery doesn't help matters. Her style of speaking makes her seem heavily medicated throughout half of the film.
For a romantic drama to succeed the viewer must be made to root for the couple to triumph. I just did not get that feeling here. The relationship between David and Sarah is simply not a believable one. They struck me as stand-ins made to say things and be in certain situations simply because the screenplay required it of them. The film ends on a message of hope and with a bit of acting histrionics on the part of Tom Hanks. The film's closing is meant to draw tears, but the story hasn't earned it.
The image is a soft and grainy affair that is all too common for films from the early to mid eighties. Audio is restrained but the dialogue-focused mix is suitable for the film. Both audio and video show the film's age and apparently low budget. While there are chapter stops on the disc, there is no scene selection feature in the menu. I have not seen a DVD since the early days of the format omit that feature. It appears this DVD was really made on the cheap. The disc contains no extra features.
The story of a couple's problems not amounting to a hill of beans in the face of war has been told before and with more finesse than in Every Time We Say Goodbye. An earnest performance by Hanks is not enough to distinguish this film. A more energetic and believable female lead might have injected more life into the proceedings. As it stands, Every Time We Say Goodbye wound up being a footnote to Hanks's impressive career. When one compares it to his other films, you can see why.
The clichéd screenplay harkens back to movies made during and just after World War II. The message of sacrifice during wartime is one familiar to fans of the great Casablanca and numerous other vintage films. When viewed in comparison to these movies, Every Time We Say Goodbye doesn't stack up. But, it's really not any cornier than numerous other wartime romance films.
A movie centered around a romance just can't hold together if the viewer does not feel invested in the couple. All the ingredients for a compelling romance/drama are here, but it never gels into a satisfying whole. While Tom Hanks's always amiable presence is an asset, it's not enough to make this a compelling movie.
Review content copyright © 2006 Neal Masri; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13