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Moonlight Mile

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Moonlight Mile

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Susan Sarandon
Director: Brad Silberling
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 118 Minutes
Release Date: October 2002
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Holly Hunter, Dustin Hoffman, Camden Munson, Richard T. Jones, Dabney Coleman, Ellen Pompeo

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

"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

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