ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  brad silberling

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  112 minutes

RELEASED  -  27 september 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  touchstone pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  moonlight mile

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $20,000,000
moonlight mile - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from moonlight mile at

buy the dvd from moonlight mile at

a young man lingers in the family home of his fiancee, after her accidental death.

loosely based on the director's real-life experience.


picture from moonlight mile

picture from moonlight mile

picture from moonlight mile


two out of four possible stars

In its best moments, Moonlight Mile is an affecting story of human loss and the struggle to rebuild emotional strength after the death of a loved one. During its less than gripping scenes, this movie is filled with more than one non sequitur that doesn't push the movie along, but rather pushes the audience away from the film and back into their seats. Whereas certain moments of Jake Gyllenhaal's performance are absolutely engrossing, the interaction between his character and others in the film doesn't always make sense.

It is hard to predict what might fly out of Dustin Hoffman's mouth, given that his character is one of the most illogical personalities to land on the screen in recent years. Playing the father of Gyllenhaal's murdered fiancée, Hoffman gives his performance 110%, as he does with all his characters. But his emotional outbursts sometimes sound more like the drunken ramblings of a man who's had one too many six packs. And the bad thing is, his character isn't a drunk.

In point of fact, when Hoffman's character is making sense, there are some quite comedic shots in the film. Though some scenes would best be described as awkward, when the comedy is present, it is very, very good. Something this film does well is balance the lighter moments with its more serious ones. Although Mile doesn't have any specific laugh-out-loud moments, the lighter approach to death makes for some stronger emotional scenes throughout the film. It is hard to strike a balance between the funny and the serious, but when this film works, it presents a solid story.

The odd thing about this film is that many of the well acted and emotionally touching scenes are book ended with awkward instances of character silences and strange dialogue. Sometimes it is to a film's benefit to move a story along using the ever-changing road of human thought. But sometimes this film becomes a trial to watch because it doesn't complete the thoughts and ideas its characters present. For example, a character will begin speaking about an idea, but not completely finish that idea. Or he will skip over to another idea, without finishing his prior thought.

And what that jumping makes for is a movie that doesn't always progress as fast as it should. Ideas are left on the cutting room floor, only to be brought around again later in the film. These jumps do not necessarily mean there are plot holes in the film, but they do mess with the flow of it. This problem probably couldn't have been fixed easily, even with creative editing, given that this is a purely dialogue driven film. If one looks at the film as a look into the progression of human mourning, this scatter-brain approach could be considered intelligent.

Whatever the director's intention, he was successful in creating a movie with engrossing characters. Though it is certain that the caliber of the cast allows the film to make it across the finish line. Mentioning the impressive performance of Susan Sarandon is hardly necessary, given the fact that if she is in front of the camera, she gives the viewer someone fascinating think about. But truthfully, Sarandon works her magic the best she can on this strange script, which has her character injecting humor into the oddest places. Just like Dustin Hoffman's obsessive-compulsive character.

Playing the parents of a murdered child, Sarandon and Hoffman make the emotions of their characters very believable, as is usually expected of them. But it is a testament to their abilities on screen that they can make their characters sympathetic, even though the audience probably feels it should yell at the screen at their strange comments and behavior after losing a child. Jake Gyllenhaal has a good run as well in his scenes, and delivers the most impressive batch of dialogue in the movie.

Gyllenhaal has made only a few mistakes in choosing film roles, but signing up for the part in Moonlight Mile is more likely a show of his intelligence. Playing Gyllenhaal's love interest, Ellen Pompeo is effective in her role as well, though it is sometimes hard to know what her character is thinking as she doesn't always have enough dialogue. But when she does speak, she demonstrates that she has talent. And having talent is the operative word here in defining what type of film Moonlight Mile is.

It might be easy to write this film off as a sentimental tearjerker or a melodrama, but the main idea, that of losing a family member or friend, is presented is something which most people have had direct or indirect experience with. What allows this movie to move past its awkward moments and lets the audience forgive bubbles in the dialogue, is a good combination of acting, cinematography, and set direction. There exists a fundamental weirdness with the script and it is probably something audiences will just have to put up with, in order to enjoy the fine performances.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content © 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs © touchstone pictures 2002
home | archive | ratings | links | photographs | about | contact