Giant Step for Romance
Wonderful sights and sounds of the 1960s fill the screen in A Walk on the Moon. This cinematic journey to the past explores the sexual revolution of a Jewish housewife during Woodstock’s memorable summer of love. (Think Dirty Dancing meets The Bridges of Madison County.)
Pearl Kantowitz (Diane Lane), who got pregnant and married at age 17, can’t help feeling she’s missing something. After spending her entire married life raising two children and caring for her husband, she thinks exciting changes are passing her by. The Vietnam War, the Peace Movement, hippies, free love, flower power, etc. have had little impact on her life. Then, during the summer of 1969, she falls under the spell of a seductive hippie salesman called the “Blouse Man” (Viggo Mortensen).
Their first daring tryst takes place in the Blouse Man’s bus at the same time as the Apollo Mission moon landing, hence the film’s title -- a perfect metaphor for Pearl’s new experience. And perfect is the word for both Lane and Mortensen in this provocative movie. They sizzle as an on-screen couple. Their steamy lovemaking almost melts the celluloid. Mortensen projects the same magnetism he exuded as Gwyneth Paltrow’s lover in A Perfect Murder, and Lane delivers a poignant, intelligent performance that ranks as one of her best.
When Pearl’s suspicious mother-in-law (Tovah Feldshuh) and rebellious teenage daughter (Anna Paquin) discover her wild behavior, nothing can ever be the same for the Kantowitz family. That, of course, includes Marty (Liev Schreiber), Pearl’s square but devoted husband. His painful confrontation with Pearl provides some of filmdom’s most heartbreaking moments.
Actor Tony Goldwyn (co-starring now with Kerry Washington in TV’s popular “Scandal” series) made a promising directorial debut with A Walk on the Moon. He wisely focused on contrasts between two very different worlds. Working from an award-winning script by Pamela Gray, Goldwyn deftly interweaves traditional Jewish family scenes with hippie celebration activities. Obviously a fan of the 60s, he used terrific music to create the right mood throughout. The film’s eclectic soundtrack includes songs from such diverse artists as Bobby Darin, the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Georgia Gibbs, Ritchie Havens, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Dusty Springfield, Jefferson Airplane, Dean Martin and others.
Although billed as a romantic comedy, A Walk on the Moon seems a bit short on humor. But never mind that. It sends a powerful message about how important romance can be at any age, especially for husbands and wives.
(Released by Miramax and rated “R” by MPAA.)
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