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Overall Rating

Awesome: 30.23%
Worth A Look58.14%
Average: 2.33%
Pretty Bad: 4.65%
Total Crap: 4.65%

4 reviews, 19 user ratings

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Moonlight Mile
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"The Three Leads Are Great...But You Will Remember Ellen Pompeo"
4 stars

In 1989, probably the most famous celebrity stalking case took place. It involved actress Rebecca Schaeffer, co-star of the CBS sitcom, My Sister Sam. A young schizophrenic man became angered when she resisted his advances and shot her dead outside her apartment. At the time, she was dating a young television director by the name of Brad Silberling. He has since gone on to direct a pair of feature films dealing with the subjects of life and death; the cartoon transition of Casper, where the friendly ghost turned out to be a young boy who had died and City of Angels, the American remake of Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire with Nicolas Cage as an angel who falls in love with a human and wants to become one. Now, he tackles a different kind of afterlife about a family and a fiance who must deal with the tragic death of a loved one.

Jake Gyllenhaal (getting all the roles that used to be synonymous with Tobey Maguire) plays Joe, the fiance, now living in the small hometown of the girl’s parents, Ben and JoJo Floss (Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon) under the same roof. JoJo can’t write a word and resents the attempts of others to comfort her, whether sincere or not, and Ben puts on a sunny disposition covering all his bets on a future with Joe joining his real estate business.

Joe is also trying to put the past behind him, but has doubts about his own direction. He isn’t very keen on the methods necessary to succeed in the family business and can’t figure out a way to separate himself from the Floss’ without disappointing them in their time of need. When he goes to pick up his wedding invitations before they awkwardly go out to 75 guests, he meets Bertie Knox (Ellen Pompeo, remember that name), part time postal worker/waitress. With her positive outlook on life, although aware of Joe’s recent troubles, the future seems a little brighter even if Joe isn’t aware of it yet.

The relationship that develops between Joe and Bertie is the heart and soul of the picture. For every fine speech that Ben and JoJo have about their daughter or their regrets and hopes (and believe me, there’s a lot), this is the pair we want to see on screen. There is a scene in the local bar when Joe is at his breaking point, backed into an emotional corner and surrounded by people he has no interest in being around. In desperation, he makes a move for the jukebox. And then there is Bertie. The utter perfection the way this scene is directed and acted tantamounts to one of the most romantic scenes in years.

Again, I asked you to remember her name – Ellen Pompeo. With any justice this gal is going to be a star to contend with. Reminding us of someone who could be Renee Zellweger’s sister, she bursts forth here the same way Renee did in Jerry Maguire, with a smile that can make you cry and a way of speaking that should make any man fall in love with her instantly. I sure did. Already slated for three big upcoming releases (Daredevil, Old School and Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can), Pompeo is the real deal.

As for the rest of the film, well its good too. Gyllenhaal, Hoffman and Sarandon all acquit themselves most admirably in roles that could have easily become very showy. Sarandon has one helluva monologue that, depending on your interpretation, either embraces the eternal question of soulmates or puts it to rest once and for all and Gyllenhaal has a heartbreaking moment as he describes his relationship to his ex-fiance. Holly Hunter appears for only a few scenes in a throwaway role as the assistant District Attorney trying the murder case; a subplot that easily could have been excised. Oh, and Ellen Pompeo – remember her.

Last year’s In the Bedroom dealt with the grieving of two parents and the anger they felt when their child was murdered. Comparisons will be drawn easily between the two, but through the course of Moonlight Mile, we also move on and understand this is less about the deceased and more Joe’s tale; continuing with the struggles and doubts he had even when he was engaged, as he tries to discover where “home” is to him. Through all the unnecessary standard script complications and false contrivances involving family secrets and Ben’s attempt to nail a deal with a wealthy competitor (Dabney Coleman, nice to see him back on screen), it’s Joe that we stick with and want to see happy.

Silberling has never been shy when it comes to pouring on the emotional molasses for his endings. (His slow-mos during the climax of City of Angels oh-so-prematurely spelled doom.) Here he gets to spread it out over the course of an entire film and for the first two acts succeeds to balance a very moving tale. He stumbles through the third, however, with one too many speeches made in behalf of the fallen and committing overkill with an ill-conceived courtroom scene that screams Oscar clip. It’s hard to grasp how someone like Joe could struggle so mightily with his own destiny yet be able to know for sure exactly what his fiance “would have wanted.”

Moonlight Mile is still a film I enjoyed very much. It didn’t quite strike the final emotional impact it was aiming for, but it still hits the target with individual moments along the way. Thanks to the great performances across the board and a very Cameron Crowe-esque handling of the romance, Silberling raises it above your atypical television weepie. It may not have what it takes to go the full mile, but the journey is worth your time, especially if you have Ellen Pompeo sitting next to you for the ride.

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originally posted: 09/27/02 03:24:33
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User Comments

12/07/06 Larissa Awesome movie and the soundtrack is even better. 5 stars
4/25/06 Carol Baker This movie was in between Average and Worth a look. Dustin Hoffman has been in better pict 4 stars
9/27/03 Chlo (Mrs. Jake Gyllenhaal) Hmm, pretty good, but if you want to see a really good Jake movie - see Donnie Darko!!! 4 stars
9/16/03 Ingo A bit too cheesy, but fortunately very funny, too. 4 stars
9/13/03 Neil I was drawn in after awhile and, like Collin, fell hook, line & sinker. Awesome soundtrack! 4 stars
4/07/03 Lori Boring, irritating, and shamelessly derivative 1 stars
3/12/03 fleaj characters kept me involved 4 stars
3/05/03 thejames great movie in every way shape and form. 5 stars
3/02/03 Brian Bastedo I loved it;great soundtrack too 4 stars
12/07/02 ownerofdajoint welltoldtragedyabouttheruthlessnessoflivingandourultimatehelplessnesstoit......... 5 stars
11/17/02 pixie this movie was unbelievable, so real, all you can do is sit back and absorb. so good. 5 stars
11/09/02 spaceworm Haven't been here in awhile, but I just saw this movie... 5 stars
10/18/02 Suzz slow, boring, uninvolving, awful screenplay and worse soundtrack 2 stars
10/15/02 LessThanColleen Really great, very emotion with some humor. Jake Gyllenhaal's a better actor then most! 5 stars
10/13/02 sunlight kilometer Actors chew scenery, movie takes too long and says nothing. Overpretentious. 1 stars
10/09/02 Heather Pretty good movie, reminded me of Wonder Boys for some reason .... 4 stars
10/07/02 marco guerra It wasn't about grief, the actors did a lousy job but the worst was Silberling . 3 stars
10/03/02 Me Not U Best film of 2002 despite gooey melodrama. The most real film of 2002 for sure 5 stars
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  27-Sep-2002 (PG-13)



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