Moonlight Mile (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/02/2003

Two out of five stars
Running time: 117 mins

Well-acted by its impressive cast, but ultimately very slow to the point of being boring and unengaging – still, it’s a treat to see Hoffman onscreen again.

Moonlight Mile has a somewhat macabre background to it, given that its central themes (loss, guilt etc) are drawn from writer-director Silberling’s own experiences after the murder of his girlfriend (actress Rebecca Schaeffer) by an obsessive fan. In fact, Silberling clearly has a bit of a thing about death, as his two previous films include Caspar (boy dies, becomes ghost) and Wings of Desire remake City of Angels (Nic Cage dies, becomes Angel. Or something).

However, though he’s assembled a top-notch cast, this never feels like much more than an accomplished TV Movie-of-the-Week.

Joe, Ben and Jo-Jo

The story centres on Jake (Donnie Darko) Gyllenhaal as Joe, a young man who has recently lost his fianceé (who we never see) in a restaurant shooting. The film begins an unspecified amount of time after her funeral, with Joe living with her bereaved parents, real estate agent Ben (Dustin Hoffman) and writer JoJo (Susan Sarandon), who’s struggling with writer’s block.

Each of the characters is dealing with their loss in their own way (Hoffman throwing himself into his work, etc), with both JoJo and Ben seeing Joe as a sort of surrogate son. However, Joe has his own secrets and tentatively embarks on a new relationship while trying to work out how to tell Ben and JoJo that he had broken off his engagement on the day of the shooting…

Performance-Driven

This is largely a performance-driven film, as its three leads are immensely watchable actors. In particular, it’s a real pleasure to see Hoffman again – he hasn’t graced our screens since The Messenger (1999) and Sphere (1998). Similarly, the presence of Susan Sarandon can liven up practically anything. However, it’s hard to avoid the thought that, without them, this would be deeply tedious to sit through.

Gyllenhaal is good here, too, for once romancing someone his own age (Ellen Pompeo) after his Oedipally-tinged turns in The Good Girl and Lovely & Amazing.

Ladles of Sentimentality

There are one or two good scenes (all of them involving Hoffman) but for the most part this takes a long time to get anywhere and then resorts to ladling on the sentimentality when it does.

To sum up, this is just about worth watching if you’re a big fan of either Hoffman or Sarandon, or if you’re obsessively following Jake Gyllenhaal’s career. However, when stacked up against other recent films in the Grief Movie genre (In The Bedroom, The Son’s Room etc), this is a disappointment, as it’s slow and frequently boring. Wait for the video.

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Moonlight Mile (15)
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Content updated: 20/10/2017 18:57

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