A Walk on the Moon

on March 26, 1999 by Bridget Byrne
A thoughtful script, sensitive acting and intelligent direction all combine to make "A Walk on the Moon" a pleasurable trip back to the heady days of the late '60s, when changing values challenged established customs, freedom clashed with duty and imagination and desire kicked out against convention and common sense. All these conflicts and many more are woven by scripter Pamela Gray into a tender tale which is both specific to its era and eternal in its truths.
Pearl ("Murder at 1600's" Diane Lane), a beautiful young wife and mother stifled and frustrated by a safe but rigid lifestyle--crystalized in the quaint traditions of the Catskills resorts where Jewish families like hers gather on summer vacation--takes a dangerous leap into an alternative universe: She has an affair with "the Blouse Man." This travelling salesman happens to be a good-looking hippie who awakens all her dormant emotions and confronts her with an awesome choice. Will she dream on and drop out or instead try to use this brief encounter to revitalize the very different kind of love she has for her family?
Although often very funny, Gray's script, under the deft and insightful direction of Tony Goldwyn, is never insensitive to the complexities of all the characters' feelings. Even the mother-in-law, played by Tovah Feldshuh, never stumbles into cliche or caricature. The decency of both husband and lover gives added heft to Pearl's dilemma as the well-cast actors--"Scream 2's" Liev Schreiber and "A Perfect Murder's" Viggo Mortensen, respectively--provide unique, multidimensional portraits of men with good hearts but very different lifestyles. Anna Paquin as the adolescent daughter, rebelliously eager to fully explore the sexual revolution at the same time as her mother, is wonderfully riddled with all the angst, charm, doubts, fears and confusions of a teenager. But above all Diane Lane, without any theatrical fuss or flamboyance, is lovely and appealing as Pearl, surprised by the cruel wonder of her fateful romance.
Besides allowing his actors to fully trust their natural strengths, Goldwyn brings to the film an easy sense of period, an ability to actually make the love scenes between Lane and Mortensen realistic, romantic and sexy, and an acute ear for mood setting music, as the culture of Woodstock and the Catskills collide while the Apollo Mission heads to the moon, and Pearl steps out... Starring Diane Lane, Viggo Mortensen, Liev Schreiber and Anna Paquin. Directed by Tony Goldwyn. Written by Pamela Gray. Produced by Dustin Hoffman, Tony Goldwyn, Jay Cohen, Neil Koenigsberg, Lee Gottsegen and Murray Schisgal. A Miramax release. Romantic comedy/drama. Rated R for sexuality, language and some drug use. Running time: 106 min
Tags: Diane Lane, Viggo Mortensen, Liev Schreiber, Anna Paquin, Tony Goldwyn, Pamela Gray, Dustin Hoffman, Jay Cohen, Neil Koenigsberg, Lee Gottsegen, Murray Schisgal, traditions, emotional, romance, sex, period piece, family drama

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