Moonlight Mile
3 out of 5 stars
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This is one of those engaging dramas that features fantastic performances, a breath of raw life and serious emotional resonance ... and yet it's also strangely forgettable. Joe (Gyllenhaal) has just lost his fiancee in a tragic event, and he's living with her parents Ben and JoJo (Hoffman and Sarandon), as they all try to figure out what to do next. Ben and Joe had planned to go into business together, but now Joe wonders if that's such a good idea ... or even if he should stay in the small Massachusetts town at all. As these three wounded people try to cope with the inane sympathies of their friends, they also find the ability to face the truth about their lives. The spark for this is the attraction Joe reluctantly feels for the local postmaster Bertie (Pompeo).

There's a lot going on beneath the surface, and the cast is more than up to the challenge. Gyllenhaal delivers yet another profoundly introspective performance, while Hoffman and Sarandon capture their characters with amazing depth and humour and Pompeo gives a promisingly non-stereotypical turn as an independent woman who's deeply in denial. (Plus, we also get the marvelous Hunter and Coleman in key minor roles). Silberling's script tackles the whole concept of grief from a new angle, deftly avoiding cliches and bringing the characters' raw honesty to the surface. But there are problems: The romance between Joe and Bertie seems strangely tenuous, because both of them have so much baggage (her boyfriend is missing in Vietnam, which is one of the reasons for the 1973 period, besides the title Rolling Stones song). It's hard to believe that they are "meant for each other", as the script so unsubtly states while it ratchets up the emotion. Still, the rest of the story is compelling and effective--here the film's emotions are much more authentic and moving. And it's worth the price of admission for the performances alone.

cert 15 themes, language 18.Nov.02

dir-scr Brad Silberling
with Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Ellen Pompeo, Holly Hunter, Dabney Coleman, Allan Corduner, Richard T Jones, Aleksia Landeau, Mary Ellen Trainor, McNally Sagal, Careena Melia
release US 4.Oct.02; UK 21.Feb.03
02/US 1h56

Like father and son. Joe and Ben (Gyllenhaal and Hoffman) take a walk...

gyllenhaal sarandon hoffman
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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall