Wednesday, April 19, 2006

when the moon hits your eye...

When I first started watching Moonstruck, starring Cher and Nicolas Cage, I figured that it would just be your typical romantic comedy. Not a bad thing, but not exactly exciting either. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The film is a romantic comedy, but it is also much more than the typical, lightweight chick-flick variety.

Moonstruck takes place in the Italian-American community in New York City, and is about Loretta Castorini (Cher), a woman in her mid-thirties who has decided to marry Johnny Cammareri
for practical reasons, not for love. However, when Johnny flies to Italy to visit his sick mother, Loretta meets estranged younger brother Ronny (Cage) and the sparks fly.

One thing which definitely raised this film above average was Cher's performance, which she deservedly won an Oscar for. She makes Loretta into a no-nonsense, down-to-earth woman but still with some softness underneath. Cher's New York accent is also perfect. Loretta is also not the typical romantic comedy heroine. She bosses men around and is pretty frumpy in the beginning of the film. Although she does undergo the typical Cinderella transformation, she still keeps her no-nonsense manner. Also, Ronny loved her even before she transformed. Ronny is pretty much the typical female romantic fantasy: he's dark, tortured, and brooding, but has a sensitive side - he enjoys opera. However, Loretta's no-nonsense manner helps alleviate this stereotype, and the film sometimes acknowledges that it is an extreme stereotype and so plays it for laughs.

Moonstruck also has other things going for it other than the main romance narrative. The film also follows Loretta's mother, who is trying to deal with the fact that her husband has been having an ongoing affair and who asks every man she meets "why do men chase women?" Another small, but enjoyable aspect is Loretta's grandfather, who is constantly walking his herd of dogs around. This also ties in with the moon theme, that the full moon makes people wild and romantic. This slightly fantastical aspect makes some of the more unbelievable parts of the film (like Loretta and Ronny's quick consummation) more credible. Finally, the film is a great portrayal of Italian-American culture, although the constant Italian music did get grating after a while. It also shows the importance of family, even over romance, in this culture, as shown by the closing scenes.

Moonstruck is an enjoyable, uplifting film with a great performance by Cher. I'd definitely recommend it, especially if you need something to improve your mood. It's quick-paced and funny with great lines. For example, Loretta's mother tells her that she shouldn't marry a man she loves, because "when you love them they drive you crazy because they know they can," probably the definitive line of this witty film.

No comments: