Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Peter Weller and Diane Keaton
SHOOT THE MOON (1982). Director: Alan Parker.

Faith Dunlap (Diane Keaton), a housewife with four young daughters, is married to an acclaimed author named George (Albert Finney), who is having an affair with Sandy (Karen Allen). Faith learns of the affair and divorce papers are filed, and the children try to cope with the painful disintegration of their parents' marriage and their own worries for the future. The oldest daughter, Sherry (Dana Hill) is particularly anguished, and at first wants no relationship with the father whose love she craves. Then a contractor named Frank (Peter Weller) enters the picture and begins his own relationship with Faith, and George's jealousy and paranoia threaten to demolish everything ... Shoot the Moon was a talked-about movie in its day, although it's pretty much forgotten now, and one can see why. While the film is quite good at delineating the emotional upheaval affecting the oldest daughter, and there are some good, near-powerful sequences, the characters are a little too unsympathetic to make us fully root for them. Spouses do tend to have conflicted feelings during divorces, and the film spells that out but never fully engages us. The constant presence of the four daughters, however adorable, sometimes makes this resemble a dark Disney film. The deck is sort of stacked against George because he is a self-absorbed asshole, which the film never quite addresses until the ending; while George had a girlfriend on the side, it is not clear if he actually wanted a divorce. Keaton [Interiors] gives an excellent performance, nearly matched by Finney [Tom Jones], and there is superlative work from the young Dana Hill as their daughter, Sherry  -- one of the best scenes is between Finney and Hill as they have a long talk on a dock. Weller [Star Trek Into Darkness] doesn't get much of a chance to be more than the likable, swaggering hunk with a penchant for his own violence. A scene when Faith and George have a fight in a restaurant is pure sitcom and out of sync with the rest of the movie. George Murdock scores in a brief scene as Faith's dying father. Michael Seresin's cinematography is superb.

Verdict: Something's missing ... **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - I remember enjoying this when I saw it back in the 1980s, but not nearly as much as in Woody Allen's Interiors and in Warren Beatty's Reds. Keaton really is a fine dramatic actress as well as comedienne. Maybe Shoot the Moon is just a little dated? (Albert Finney was never my favorite leading man, by the way, either.)

William said...

Finney was an odd choice for the role, frankly. I think that was a cost-cutting move because Keaton was big at the time and probably cost a lot.

Keaton is very talented. I'm going to watch her (again) in "Looking for Mr. Go0odbar" when I get a chance.