"That was the Rabbi," Ben Floss (Dustin Hoffman) tells his wife JoJo
(Susan Sarandon) about his telephone conversation. "It's a done deal
-- no 'God.'" Their daughter is dead, murdered accidentally by a
deranged killer. His wife isn't comfortable with visible grieving.
She even insists on heavy rock music being played in their funeral
car on the way to the burial.
In MOONLIGHT MILE, writer/director Brad Silberling too often heaps
it on too thick as he did in CITY OF ANGELS, his remake of Wim Wenders’s
WINGS OF DESIRE. The movie, which ends up being an IN THE BEDROOM
LITE, centers on the death of a grown child and an upcoming trial.
Along the way, the movie produces several nice laughs and tries hard
to wring out some tears. The story is set in a small town during
the Vietnam War, and bittersweet rock anthems keep bursting out on
the overscored soundtrack.
Before Floss's daughter Diane died, she was about to be married to
Joe Nast (Jake Gyllenhaal, last seen opposite Jennifer Aniston in
THE GOOD GIRL). While waiting for the trial, Joe stays with his almost
in-laws. There is a lot of discussion about Joe's plans, of which
he has none. "Of course, I'd like you to remain celibate for the
rest of your life, but everything else is negotiable," JoJo tells Joe semi-seriously.
Joe finds a kindred spirit in Bertie Knox (Ellen Pompeo), a "stamp
slinger" at the local one-person post office as well as a bartender
at night. They are almost in the same boat since three years ago
her boyfriend went missing in action in Vietnam. She's a sexy tomboy
who is far and away the most interesting character in the picture.
Her relationship with Joe, however, is disappointing and never quite credible.
The film is pretty good until the ending -- the story's key trial
scene is an unbelievable, would-be weeper that sinks the movie. I
don't mind so much having my emotions manipulated, but I hate having
my intelligence insulted.
MOONLIGHT MILE runs 1:52. It is rated PG-13 for "some sensuality
and brief strong language" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes