When Joe Nast's plans for marriage change due to an unexpected loss, he wants to be the man he believes everyone wants him to be--dutifully bereaved husband-to-be, and perfect would-be son-in-law to Ben and JoJo. But when another woman unexpectedly enters his life, he's quickly torn between fulfilling his new role and following his heart.
Brad Silberling's picture, loosely based on events in his own life, could easily have turned into what Susan Sarandon's character, the grieving mother of a murdered young woman, calls a "cliché parade." The subject a family and a fiancé struggle to come to grips with their devastating loss is ripe for over-dramatic sentimentality. Though its conclusion is too tidily therapeutic, and though elements of its story strain credibility, "Moonlight Mile" has an understated, lived-in quality, and a wry, unforced sense of the absurd. The soundtrack, of early 1970's album cuts certainly helps. Jake Gyllenhaal's performance as the fiancé, in particular, is smart and unpredictable, a portrait of Vietnam-era youthful indecision that reminds you of the young Dustin Hoffman. The real Mr. Hoffman, meanwhile, plays the murder victim's father, who clings to his not-quite-son-in-law as a way of holding onto his lost daughter. — A. O. Scott
2002-09-27 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Moonlight Mile