Reviewed by: Ken James
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Holly Hunter, Ellen Pompeo | Directed by: Brad Silberling | Produced by: Mark Johnson, Brad Silberling | Written by: Brad Silberling | Distributor: Touchstone Pictures
Rarely do films try to honestly tackle hard issues like the death of a loved one. Yet that’s exactly where “Moonlight Mile” dares to tread, perhaps stemming from the personal experience Producer Brad Silberling allegedly went through in 1989 after losing his girlfriend to a random act of violence. Viewing “Moonlight Mile”, you can tell it’s not just a trite film with easy answers for those who have lost a loved one. This film brings the general populace into the heart and soul of one on the losing end, filled with do gooders who remember to call to see if you need anything, provide books on grieving, etc… with no idea that their efforts are often exactly the opposite of what is needed during a time of loss and tragedy.
Everyone believes that Joe Nast (Jake Gyllenhaal, “October Sky”) is three days away from marrying his fiancee, daughter to Ben and JoJo Floss (Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon), when the estranged husband of a waitress at the the small town New England diner she was eating inadvertently kills her. The night I screened this film, I wasn’t in the mood to see a heavy drama filled with sniffling females dragging along their men. I’m glad to say I was in for a surprise. “Moonlight Mile” offers a subtle blend of humor, romance, and drama as it explores relationships reeling from suffering.
The relationship angle present here is certainly unique. Joe has moved in with his what was to be his inlaws. As their daughter was an only child, Joe awkwardly tries to fill the role of son when in reality he is not. He’s not quite sure what to do with his life at the present time, so he presses on, unsuredly feeling his way through the foginess around him. He does partner up with Ben in his commercial real estate business (as was the plan). He does stick around in his fiancee’s hometown. But the relationships he has forged become even more strained when he begins to fall in love with local girl Bertie (Ellen Pompeo) who is dealing with a loss of her own.
“Moonlight Mile” is a strong romantic drama, but is needlessly cluttered with heavy profanity (over a dozen instances of God’s name in vain) and other bad language. There is also one scene of premarital sex as Joe and Bertie end up in each other’s arms. Bare shoulders and backs was about all the nudity involved, but such reckless relationships are promoted as being okay, and even a good thing (for the sake of comfort). If it hadn’t been for those two negative factors, I would encourage many friends to see “Moonlight Mile”.