I didn't know they made movies like this in the 30s (or the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s...)
This is a very progressive film with themes way ahead of the times even for today. What does that mean? Usually when someone calls a film "progressive" it means it's hypersexed, banned by the Pope or has gratuitous shots of belly buttons. Right, well, none of that. NEXT TIME WE LOVE is progressive because it delves into interpersonal issues that simply "didn't exist" in the golden age of Hollywood.
A wife who chooses career over family? Preposterous. A husband/father who neglects the upbringing of his child? Outrageous. A marriage that is mutually tolerant of infidelity? Sacrilegious. Hollywood has historically depicted the marriage ceremony as the proverbial "happily ever after"; yet in this film we get a sober and realistic view of how life really works.
There are no dramatic fireworks, no cartoonish liaisons, no screaming or breaking things like we might get in a modern film dealing with this subject. Instead, it's extremely subtle and believable. There's not much flashy plot to sink your MTV-starved mind into, but if instead you like to digest your films slowly and comprehend the meaning behind every gesture--the tension in Margaret Sullivan's spine, the repressed torment in Jimmy Stewart's posture, the way a cigarette can be worth a thousand words when lit at the perfect moment--then this film is for you.
One thing worth mentioning... this is one of the few films that handles the aging of characters in a credible manner. Margaret goes from a giddy schoolgirl to a mature woman of the world. Jimmy goes from a brash adventurer to a pensive introvert. The makeup, hairstyles, clothes and especially the way the actors carry themselves convey the passage of time as the film progresses over a decade (perhaps mirroring the awakening of a nation from the roaring 20s to the tougher times that followed). The climactic hotel meeting near the end of the film presents two completely different personalities from what we originally met; you could almost believe that it was played by two new actors, but no, we owe it all to the fantastic acting & direction of this film.
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