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Overall Rating
4.52

Awesome72%
Worth A Look: 16%
Average: 8%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4%

1 review, 19 user ratings


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Man In The Moon, The
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by John Rice

"A beautiful and beautifully understated film."
5 stars

Released in 1991, "The Man in the Moon" is a fine example of the type of small budget, beautifully made films that would be all too rare throughout the decade. It is simple, passionate, well directed, acted and written, is one of the all time greatest examples of cinematography, and is the first to showcase one of the finest and most under appreciated actors of her generation. Despite all this, it got absolutely no recognition from organizations such as the Academy Awards and remains little known. It is, however, one of the most watchable films I have ever seen and among a handful of my all-time favorites.

Set in 1950s Southern Louisiana, The Man in the Moon tells the story of the Trant family. Matt and Abigail are parents with three daughters and a fourth child on the way. Matt hopes to finally have the son he has always wanted, while Abigail complains about being pregnant and her middle daughter, Dani, being bad at washing the dishes and constantly running off to the local swimming hole. They run the family with a strict but loving hand that is too uncommon in movies today.

Dani and her older sister, Maureen, pass the hot summer nights sleeping on the back porch and sharing their thoughts. Dani dreams of being just like Maureen, who is “so pretty, it hurts” while thinking she herself is “just a lump.” Maureen, who is about to go off to college, fears the world is going to swallow her up and wonders if she should just stay home and get married instead. The entire family has a closeness and commitment to each other that reflects the time and place in which the film is set. Unfortunately, it is a type of togetherness that Hollywood has become more likely to ridicule than show in a positive light.

After the death of her husband, a former neighbor and childhood friend of Matt and Abigail moves back with her three sons to work the family farm. Her 17 year old son, Court, unwittingly disrupts Dani’s solitude at the swimming hole, which is actually on his family’s property. Dani’s outrage soon turns to affection, and eventually an almost unavoidable conflict develops between her and Maureen. As circumstances become increasingly difficult for Dani, the film follows her as she copes with her affection for Court and anger with Maureen, eventually gaining an understanding of dealing with disappointment, loss and forgiveness. While the events of the film themselves are not exactly earth shattering, there are some surprises and the way in which they are told is warm and caring.

It is probably the greatest strength of The Man in the Moon that it is easily taken as much less than it is. The story and acting are so subtle they don't demand the attention of the viewer like many modern films do. Basically, all the characters are decent, devoted, loving people. Like in real life, those people are sometimes put in difficult situations. The notable difference here is that while nobody wants to hurt anyone else, they sometimes do so unintentionally. This is where the maturity of the story comes through. All the characters, including the 14 year old Dani know this, deep down. There is no revenge, and when someone is hurt, they handle it in a responsible way.

The entire film is photographed with astounding beauty by Cinematographer Freddie Francis (Glory, The Elephant Man) who integrates a golden warmth of youth with blossoming and tangled branches of the trees, to match the main theme of the story. In particular, the last 15 minutes, during which there is almost no dialog, embodies the simple beauty and emotional power of this exceptional film, while showcasing the quiet talent of its star.

This review originally appeared on Slacker-Reviews.com.

Despite outstanding performances from Sam Waterston as Matt, Tess Harper as Abigail, Emily Warfield as Maureen, Jason London as Court and Gail Strickland as his mother Marie, the stand-out performance comes from Reese Witherspoon, only 14 years old at the time, as Dani, starring in her first film role. In the 14 or so years since, Witherspoon has become one of the most sought after actresses in the American movie business, which unfortunately, does not always lead to the most interesting roles. Her often subtle, but powerful performance here, as well as in many of the other lesser known films she has done shows Witherspoon as an exceptionally talented actor.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10381&reviewer=373
originally posted: 08/10/04 14:35:30
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User Comments

4/06/16 Anne Some good emotion, death of son really far fetched 3 stars
2/04/14 Edward It's perfect 5 stars
1/12/11 PAUL SHORTT WELL HANDLED DELICATE WEEPY 3 stars
10/03/07 Dawn A wonderful film, no wonder Reese became the star she is 5 stars
2/17/07 james Doyle What a Movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
11/27/06 Jane Reese Witherspoon is fantastic. 5 stars
7/06/06 Dan Miley Very good, not quite "awesome". 4 stars
1/27/06 Ashlee the guy that died is so hot but the movie sucked 1 stars
1/22/06 Thomas Wow! What an beautiful film. Absolutely perfect. 5 stars
12/20/05 kr one of my favorites a great story with a good-looking Jason London 5 stars
11/26/05 cr a great movie and acting was top notch, and tear jerked 4 stars
10/23/05 Jill Beck Have always loved it. Makes me smile just thinking abou it. 5 stars
9/07/05 Michael The best movie you've never seen. A remarkable, beautiful masterpiece 5 stars
8/24/05 Danny A beatiful film, one of my favorites. Great performances from everyone involved. 5 stars
7/27/05 adina the most sensitive film ever 5 stars
2/08/05 Britnee Jones It was the saddest film I have ever seen, yet it was he best film i have ever seen 5 stars
12/22/04 Harry Bryant darn good movie, sad ending but still good 4 stars
9/13/04 J Teto Absolutely Beautiful. 5 stars
8/11/04 R.W. Welch Low key family-centered drama has an unusually fine touch...almost a lost art nowadays. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  15-Nov-1991 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Robert Mulligan

Written by
  Jenny Wingfield

Cast
  Sam Waterston
  Tess Harper
  Gail Strickland
  Reese Witherspoon



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