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Moonlight Mile
2002 - PG-13 - 117 Mins.
Director: Brad Silberling
Producer: Mark Johnson, Brad Silberling
Written By: Brad Silberling
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Holly Hunter, Ellen Pompeo
Review by: John Ulmer
   
"Moonlight Mile" is a hard film to review. Not because I can't make up my mind on it. Because there's just not much to write about it. Only so many words can explain the plot, which I'll tackle first.

"Moonlight Mile" is a story of a young woman who is murdered, and the after-effect on the family. They don't know what to say. Her fiancee (before she died), Joe (Jake Gyllenhaal), is now living with the girl's parents. We know something is wrong - but we don't know what. Her parents, Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon, try to get on with their lives. Hoffman opens up a business with Joe, which Joe doesn't really want to go into. In fact, Joe isn't sure what he wants in his life. And then, living in the small town with his ex-parents-in-law, Joe takes an interest in the local mail lady (like we didn't see that coming!). A romance starts, and Joe later tells everyone what really happened regarding the death of his ex-fiancee. Cheesy scene.

"Moonlight Mile" deals with a sensitive, tender subject, and pulls it off pretty nicely. It isn't an excellent film, and trust me, it's been done before, but it held my interest. The dialogue was not hokey for the most part, and Dustin Hoffman really did a good job (as always). I have my personal beefs with Susan Sarandon. Mainly, I just don't like her. But the real scene stealer was Jake Gyllenhaal, who was almost signed on to "Spider-Man II" (I hesitate to write "The Amazing Spider-Man," as comic book geeks will correct me that the title has been changed to "Spider-Man II") when Tobey Maguire suffered a back injury on the set of "Seabiscuit." I've often thought he bears a resemblance to Tobey. I think this is by far the best performance I've seen him give, because I really didn't care for his acting before "Moonlight Mile."

The directorial elements of the film are nice, but many times too heavy and dramatic for the film's own good. It suffers from a very weighty atmosphere and weighty characters, when the screenplay, though deep, lacks conviction. The actors try to bring some sense to their characters, but the film just loses itself sometimes in its own self-pity for this family, when the family seems to be perfectly happy on a consistent basis.

There isn't much left to critique here. On the whole, the movie just lacks a certain element of drama; it comes across too sappy, long and muddled in between. I now realize why I never heard of this movie upon its release: It's good, but fails to really get across the way it should. Worth seeing if you've got the time, but not anything particularly special here.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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