A Walk on the Moon/B+,B+

Disney/1999/107/WS 1.85

       Sensitive movies can turn saccharine or boring or maudlin or worse. A Walk on the Moon is a sensitive movie that tiptoes through the pitfalls without tripping over its own themes. It is consistently fair to all its characters, and there are no real bad guys. Considering all the raw emotions exposed, it is remarkable you can understand the motivations of the diverse characters.

Woodstock, the Catskills and Passion. ©Universal

      Set with great affection at a Catskill bungalow colony during the time of the first manned landing on the moon in 1969 and during the Woodstock Music festival, the film contains wonderful small touches. A traditional summer refuge from the sweltering city heat for many middle class Jewish families, the low-key facilities are depicted with the accompaniment of the ubiquitous PA speakers that seemed to be the joy of every bungalow colony owner. Perhaps the announcements at Fogler’s are a little more colorful as delivered by the very funny Julie Kavner, but the ring of truth overrides the exaggeration. 
What happens when the passion of Pearl, a summer refugee from the Brooklyn heat, is awakened by the attractive new “Blouse Man?” The timing is unfortunate as is conflicts with the eruption of her daughter’s nascent womanhood  Pearl’s hard working husband Marty is left out in the cold, frustrated and unable to understand the changes going on around him. Coincidence plays a part in the unfolding drama of A Walk on the Moon, but while I always look suspiciously when the element of chance plays too great a part in the unfolding film, the filmmakers have taken enough care in the script to make it acceptable. 
     A Walk on the Moon is a good movie, even a very good movie, but you are left with a lingering feeling that there could have been more. Did the director leave something on the table? Were there precious scraps of Catskills minutiae left on the cutting room floor? Maybe I am wrong and this would have been a lesser film with additional complexity or further explorations of relationships. It is primarily, after all, Pearl’s story. 
Diane Lane is always appealing. She’s a very sexy woman armed with everything that makes a screen sex siren, yet she plays plain with great honesty. She makes Pearl a sympathetic character despite what may be viewed as irredeemable transgressions. Viggo Mortensen provides his own brand of sexual screen presence and is excellent as Walker the blouse man. Anna Paquin is appealing as daughter Alison and Liev Schreiber well cast as Marty. 
     Tony Goldwyn’s directing debut is outstanding. Goldwyn demonstrates a visual and character command. He’s an even-handed commander of A Walk on the Moon. The cinematography of Adam Richmond captures the right tones for the time and place. 
     The subtlety of color in the transfer is very appealing. One look at the ”blouse man’s” array of garments provides raves to the DVD’s ability to handle color. Images are detailed with excellent depth. There’s plenty of light output with dynamic contrast. The soundtrack pops with music of the period and the ambient sounds of summer are well recorded in Dolby Digital 5:1 sound.



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