Romance and Religion Don't Mix for Tom Hanks
When you think about Tom Hanks's career during the 80s you most likely think of him as a comedian, starring in fun movies such as "Splash" and "Big". But in between the various comedies Tom Hanks also appeared in a few dramas, allowing him to show the world that he was more than just the funny nice guy. One of Hanks's 80's dalliances with drama was "Every Time We Say Goodbye" a movie set during the Second World War where an American pilot convalescing in Jerusalem falls for a Jewish girl except being from different countries and religions causes issues. Sadly "Every Time We Say Goodbye" is a movie with issues of its own and being basically a romantic cliche is not really one of them as it allows it to be both sweet and charming.
After being injured in combat American pilot David Bradley (Tom Hanks - The Man with One Red Shoe) finds himself stuck in Jerusalem whilst he convalesces. Through his friend Peter (Benedict Taylor) he meets Jewish girl Sarah (Cristina Marsillach) and whilst there is an immediate attraction they slowly fall deeply in love with each other. The trouble is that Sarah's family are very traditional and forbid Sarah from seeing David because he is American and a protestant. But can their love not only overcome the family issues but also war as David is called back into action.
I've always said that Tom Hanks always reminds me of those actors from the golden era of Hollywood and no more so than in "Every Time We Say Goodbye" a movie which feels like it's been plucked out of a bygone era and remade. Everything about it, the romance, the war story, the characters and situations all remind me of a much older movie which I have to say is a great feeling. But get past this almost old style movie and what you have is a routine love story which runs to a well worked formula. You get the initial attraction between David and Sarah, the attempt to resist knowing that it can't work but then the succumbing to their emotions and the onslaught of troubles it brings.
The thing is, whilst the storyline is very routine, director Moshé Mizrahi works it well allowing the romance to blossom at a natural pace, never trying to force moments to make it move quicker. But in doing so there are issues most notably that it goes through a series of dull scenes where nothing happens, no excitement, no drama and no real romance. It does try to illustrate the differences between the ways of life with David feeling almost intimidated by the closeness of Sarah's extended family but sadly these moments are few and far between.
What is a shame is that there is an interesting historical aspect to the movie, yet it never gets the attention it deserves. During the opening credits we learn about the Sephardim, Spanish Jews that centuries earlier settled in Jerusalem and still speak an older form of Spanish. Yet once we learn this during the opening credits and understand that Sarah is a Spanish Jew this historical element is pushed to the side and forgotten about in favour of the romance.
One of the reasons why despite its issues "Every Time We Say Goodbye" remains entertaining is Tom Hanks who is so at home playing easy going characters which have an underlying intensity. Here as injured pilot David we get to warm to Hanks as he jokes and charms his way into people's lives but at the same time we watch Hanks stretch his dramatic legs delivering emotion as he struggles with Sarah's overbearing family and mother. It's by no means Tom Hanks's greatest dramatic performance but at the time it showed that he was more than just a comedian.
Aside from Hanks, Cristina Marsillach is sweet and lovely as Sarah and does get across the difficulty she has disobeying her parents and her heritage as she falls for David. And Benedict Taylor although has a minor part as British Pilot Peter takes some of the pressure off of Tom Hanks to carry the movie on his own.
What this all boils down to is that "Every Time We Say Goodbye" ends up a very run of the mill love story, which at times whisks you along on this sweet and charming romance yet also unfortunately bores you with drawn out scenes of pretty much nothing ness. But watching Tom Hanks deliver a mix of light comedy and drama is a pleasure as always.