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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
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by Natasha Theobald

"A remarkable mirror held up to the truth of love and loss."
5 stars

Most people's lives are probably dramas, sprinkled with a few comic moments that make living through the other stuff worthwhile. The beauty of this movie is how specific, how cautiously observant it is with the tragedy of this one, intimate group of people struggling with the grief of a shocking loss. The blessing of the movie is that, even with that level of attention to tiny details, it resonates beyond itself into the realm of what all of us, at some time or another, will learn is true. The brilliance of the movie is that it accomplishes this with subtlety, humor, heartache, and small moments of authenticity, which illuminate the grace of living. It carries the viewer beyond the cliches and into the core of loss without ever losing it's sense of humor or it's awareness of the awkward beauty that comes with the randomness of life.

In the opening scenes, Diana's parents and her husband-to-be, Joe, are taking care of the business of her funeral, from getting themselves ready to taking the incessant calls from those who need to reach out to them. As they ride in the funeral procession, they see life happening around them from the windows of the car, kids playing baseball, people doing the normal things that people do. But, the flurry of activity around them cannot match the chaos of feelings inside, hidden behind numb exteriors. The real work starts at home in the space of silence.

After the funeral, Joe chooses to stay on with Diana's parents, Ben and JoJo. He feels responsible for filling the fresh void in their lives, and they, in their grief, are willing to let him do it. The three live on an island of uneasy memory, clinging to the only other people on the planet who know what they had and what they have lost, not just the person, but the innocence of a time before such pain and deep sadness. Joe collects the wedding invitations, which had already been sent, from the post office. He conforms to the life that had been planned for him before her death, reluctantly joining her father's business and her parents' lives. He participates in the meetings about how to proceed with the case against her killer. He becomes central to the lives of everyone around him. The arrangement may work for now, but what happens when they start choosing to live on? What happens when Joe needs a home of his own?

The story is important, but not nearly as important as the characters who inhabit the world of the film. Dustin Hoffman is Ben, Diana's father, a man content to make things better from the outside in. If all of the calls are taken and all of the dishes are clean, he feels that some semblance of order may return to his upended existence. Susan Sarandon is JoJo, the mother who doesn't necessarily think a return to order is appropriate or welcome, who might rather battle the utter confusion with raw emotion. Both actors bring the characters into rich, full-bodied focus, giving them life and humor and depth.

And, then, there is Joe. Jake Gyllenhaal is mesmerizing in understatement. He never pushes too hard, never gives a moment anything but honest, intense reality. He shares the screen beautifully with both Hoffman and Sarandon, as well as Ellen Pompeo, who also adds something unquestionably relatable to the mix. The movie deals with love and loss with equal sincerity and care, and all of the actors travel admirably through the comedy, the drama, and the spaces in between. Holly Hunter also has some nice scenes as the attorney attending to the case surrounding Diana's death. She adds a further level of understanding to the experience of the family and to the concept of justice, legal and moral.

The production itself is pretty flawless, taking the audience to a specific place and time with the music and the look of the town, the people, and the cars. Everything comes together to create a world in which this story can take place. In one particular scene placed outside, the light shifts on the actors as a cloud passes over them. That moment of darkness seemed very appropriate, as did the return to normal sunlight beyond it. It is such admirable attention to detail that brings this movie to the next level. Everything seems enveloped in truth, something Diana is said to have prized most dearly. The words and the pictures don't dance away from this honesty.

I loved this movie, because it understood something that usually lies beyond understanding. It made me believe that someone out there isn't afraid to share the intimate details of grief. It gave me peace to know that it may offer hope to someone for whom things may seem a little hopeless.

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originally posted: 11/08/02 14:15:38
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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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